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Noise Control Measures in the Workplace

For many industries, noise control measures are an important consideration. Factories, workshops, and other workplaces can have loud equipment and environments. If not properly monitored, exposure to these loud environments over time can cause health problems for employees.

Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, it is the employers’ job to safeguard employees from the health risks associated with workplace noise. This includes conducting risk assessments to understand noise levels, implementing controls to minimise noise exposure, and ensuring that legal exposure limits are not exceeded. Employers must provide suitable hearing protection if noise levels cannot be adequately reduced through environmental or procedural adjustments. Additionally, employers must educate and train employees about noise risks and undertake health surveillance where necessary to monitor any adverse effects on hearing health.

Control Measures for Noise in the Workplace

Years ago, there were no stipulations regarding workplace noise. Workers were subjected to ear-blistering noise for hours on end daily, which resulted in many suffering from issues such as tinnitus or even hearing loss in later life. In modern workplaces, noise hazards are a significant concern and laws and rules are in place to protect workers from potentially serious health issues such as hearing loss. Effective noise control and hearing conservation programs are crucial to mitigate these risks. Employers must assess their employees’ daily or weekly noise exposure levels to ensure they do not exceed the stipulated exposure limits.

Hearing Conservation Programs

These programs are essential for environments where workers are regularly exposed to high noise, such as factories and workshops. They involve regular health surveillance to monitor any adverse changes in hearing health over time.

Engineering Controls

One of the most effective strategies for reducing noise is through engineering controls. This means putting barriers in place to absorb noise or modifying equipment to make it quieter. Altering operational practices to reduce noise at the source is also an option.

Administrative Controls and PPE

When engineering cannot adequately control noise exposure, administrative controls such as rotating employee schedules to reduce individuals’ time in noisy areas are implemented. Personal protective equipment (PPE), like earplugs and earmuffs, becomes necessary to protect against the risk of hearing loss.

Training and Awareness

Employers must also provide thorough training on the risks associated with noise exposure. Information, instructions, and training programs help employees understand the importance of hearing protection and the correct use of PPE for their own good.

Upper Exposure Action Values

The Upper Exposure Action Value (UEAV) in noise control refers to a specific level of noise exposure at which employers must take action to reduce the risk to workers’ hearing. This level is set at an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 decibels (dB). When this level is reached or exceeded, employers must implement measures such as providing hearing protection, conducting regular hearing tests, and implementing engineering or administrative controls to reduce noise exposure.

What is the Control Measure to Reduce Noise?

A control measure to reduce workplace noise typically involves the abovementioned points, such as engineering controls, administrative strategies, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Engineering controls may include modifying machinery to operate more quietly, installing barriers or sound absorbers, and maintaining equipment to prevent excessive noise. Administrative controls may involve rotating shifts to limit exposure or redesigning workflows to minimise the use of noisy equipment. When these measures are insufficient, providing employees with personal protective equipment like earmuffs or earplugs is essential to protect their hearing.

How is Noise Measured in the Workplace?

Noise in the workplace is typically measured using a sound level meter or a dosimeter. A sound level meter provides instant readings of noise levels at a particular moment and location, which is useful for identifying areas with potentially hazardous noise levels. An employee wears a dosimeter throughout the workday, collecting data on noise exposure over time, which helps assess an individual’s average exposure to noise during a typical work shift. These tools are crucial for ensuring compliance with safety regulations and implementing effective noise control measures.

Noise Monitoring and Control Solutions

Blue Turtle Ltd can assist with comprehensive noise monitoring surveys if your business lacks a dedicated health and safety team with the necessary qualifications or if you would like consulting services to ensure your business adheres to noise laws. Our surveys clearly show workplace noise levels, enabling a targeted approach to implementing necessary controls. This demonstrates to employees, regulators, and insurance companies that noise is managed effectively, ensuring no risk to hearing.

After the survey, we provide a detailed report outlining noise exposure levels, background noise, existing control adequacy, and practical recommendations. Solutions are highlighted for any legislative compliance gaps. We also offer follow-up consultations to address any questions and ensure a complete understanding of the report.

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How we can help

At Blue Turtle Ltd, we provide a range of occupational hygiene monitoring services and can help you carry out your occupational health risk assessment. We can also help you to select the optimum control measures, better understand your local exhaust ventilation systems through LEV examination and testing services and carry out occupational exposure monitoring / personal exposure monitoring services to ensure you meet your legal obligations under the COSHH Regulations.

We help businesses of all types manage their workplace health hazards. Our experienced consultants can provide practical advice on how to achieve adequate control through process changes, improvements, or adopting/changing work practices to reduce the risk as low as reasonably practicable.

Whatever your Occupational Hygiene needs are, Blue Turtle Ltd is here to help your business protect your workforce and help you meet your legal obligations.

Give us a call today to discuss your needs or if you prefer, complete the online form with a brief outline of your business needs and/or concerns.

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Striving for a safer, healthier workplace? As occupational hygiene specialists, we can identify hazards and provide tailored solutions. Reach out for a consultation today and let's enhance your work environment together!