How to reduce noise hazards in the workplace
None of us like being woken up by loud noise, or disturbed by noise when we want to relax or concentrate. We all enjoy some peace and quiet, and it’s no different when it comes to the workplace. Of course, many jobs require exposure to some loud noise, but it’s important this is kept to a minimum.
Being exposed to constant loud noise can damage workers’ hearing and cause unpleasant and harmful symptoms to arise. So, learning how to reduce noise hazards in the workplace is of vital importance.
What symptoms can workers experience as a result of noise pollution?
Hearing loss or hearing damage are the most obvious effects of being exposed to loud noise – think about when you come out of a concert or club and your ears are ringing, and you struggle to hear what people are saying. There are more symptoms, however, associated with loud noise exposure, such as:
Raised blood pressure
Irritability and mood swings
Weakened immune system (becoming susceptible to colds and bugs)
These symptoms compromise workers’ well-being and directly affect their ability to carry out their job effectively, efficiently, and enthusiastically. To minimise the risk to your employees’ health, you need to identify the noise hazards in the workplace and reduce them. If you’d like some more information on how hearing loss in the workplace can affect workers mentally and physically, read our page on hearing loss in the workplace.
What is considered to be a hazardous noise level in the workplace?
According to sources such as the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), noise becomes dangerous when it goes above 85 decibels for more than 8 hours, this is equivalent to the noise of a food blender. This may not seem like much, but extended exposure to noise of 85 decibels can lead to permanent hearing loss.
So, how can you prevent this? And, how can you reduce noise hazards in the workplace?
To reduce noise hazards in the workplace, you must first identify what they are. One of the easiest ways to identify whether there are noise hazards in the workplace, is by getting workers to stand at an arm’s length distance and have a conversation with one another. If one, or both, has to shout to be heard and understood, then this is an indication that there is noise pollution.
Other indications of noise pollution include:
If employees or visitors to the site leave with ringing or humming in their ears;
If employees or visitors experience health symptoms (such as those listed above) after visiting the site.
How to reduce noise hazards in the workplace
Once you’ve identified the noise hazards, you can then carry out further sound checks and monitor the noise levels using a sound level metre. This will determine whether or not there is a substantial noise level in the workplace. Other important measures you can take include:
Keeping on top of machine maintenance;
Limiting workers’ shifts (so that they have minimal exposure to noise);
Enclosing and isolating the noise with sound proofing;
Using shock absorbers where possible and providing workers with effective hearing protection equipment;
Maintaining the hearing protection equipment;
Training employees and/or visitors on how to use the protective equipment;
Ensuring there are visible signs showing workers when and where to use the hearing protection equipment;
Regularly monitoring noise hazards;
Insisting that workers get their hearing tested (and facilitating this, through offering free hearing checks).
The Noise at Work Regulations Act 2005 states that employers are responsible for reducing risks to health and safety. Occupational health and safety officers are able to offer advice and information to both employers and employees about reducing noise levels. Though, a noise assessment needs to be regularly carried out by a competent person. And, your employees should have their hearing tested frequently.
eargym offers hearing assessments where you can get the results in a matter of minutes. This is a convenient way for workers to keep on top of their hearing health, and the hearing games and exercises available on the app are fun too – something your team can do to unwind. Plus, workers will have access to expert advice and information from audiologists at their fingertips.
Following this guidance will help ensure your employees’ hearing well-being is protected and preserved. Encourage your employees to look after their hearing by recommending eargym. In just 4 weeks, testers experienced a 14% hearing improvement. Give it a try now on iOS and Android.