Noise induced hearing loss is a serious occpational disease and entails substantial economic costs. To the individual, it means communication difficulties, impairment of personal relationships, social isolation and degradation in the quality of life.
The NSW WHS Regulation 2011 Chapter 4 Part 4.1 Noise imposes obligations on employers to ensure that appropriate control measures are taken if a person is exposed to noise levels that
(a) exceed 8 hour level equivalent of 85 dB(A), or
(b) peak at more than 140 dB(C)
The exposure to noise is taken to be that measured at the employee's ear position without taking into account any protection, which may be afforded by personal hearing protectors.
This information contained in this document is provided to support implementation of the University's OHS Policy
This procedure applies to the University of Sydney's workplaces where is a potential for exposure to excessive noise, the plant, processes and person in those places.
- Performance Standards
- Acquiring Equipment
- Maintenance and Repair
- Audiometric Testing
An averaged 8 h equivalent continuous A-weighted sound pressure level referenced to 20 µPa, measured in dB (A). LAeq, 8h must be determined in accordance with AS/NZS 1269.
A C-weighted peak (instantaneous) sound pressure level referenced to 20 µPa, measured in dB(C). LC,peak must be determined in accordance with AS/NZS 1269.
The measurement of the hearing threshold levels of a person by means of monaural pure tone air conduction threshold tests.
Any place, whether or not in an aircraft, ship, vehicle, building or other structure, where employees work or likely to be in the course of their work.
The following standards to manage exposure to noise should be implemented:
1. Information on noise, the risks of exposure to noise and the control measures are disseminated appropriately;
2. Select new or replace equipment that can minimise exposure to noise;
3. Select, provide and maintain suitable personal hearing protectors;
4. Provide audiometric testing;
5. Monitor noise exposures and keep monitoring records.
The University of Sydney in managing risks to health and safety to reduce and manage exposure to excessive noise must:
(a) Identify hazards - find out what could cause harm;
(b) Assess risks - understand how serious the harm could be and the likelihood of it happening;
(c) Control risks - implement the most effective control measure that is reasonably practicable in the circumstances;
(d) Review control measures to ensure they are working as planned.
Identification of hazards
Hazards can be identified by:
- Staff knowledge and experience of potential injuries;
- Reviewing injury statistics;
- Equipment operation manuals.
Risk assessment must be repeated at intervals not exceeding five (5) years or whenever there is:
- Installation or removal of equipment;
- A change in equipment operating conditions;
- Modification of working arrangements affecting the length of time.
Noise assessment records should be kept and made available to management, staff, HSRs and relevant authorities. Noise assessment should be performed with an integrating-averaging sound level Class 2/Type 2 meter.
Implement Contol Measures
Implementing one or more of the following hierarchy of control measures can manage excessive noise levels in order of effectiveness.
Eliminate the risk
Elimination: e.g. eliminate the noisy equipment
Minimise the risk
Substitution: e.g. when replacing equipment, buy quieter machinery ('buying quiet")
Modification: e.g. use barriers or screens to block direct path of sound
Isolation: e.g. consider vibration isolation mountings
Engineering controls: e.g. build a sound proof enclosure
Where risk not minimised
Administrative controls: e.g. training and education, job rotation, job redesign, limiting the entry of staff and/or students to areas with excessive noise and obervance of quiet work practices.
Personal protective equipment: e.g. earmuffs, earplugs
The key issues of control measures require the examination of the following factors:
- The condition of the item generating the noise;
- The remaining serviceable life of the equipment;
- The cost of replacement with a quieter process; and
- Engineering work required to reduce emission or exposure levels.
Monitor and Review Control Measures
An important part of this step is determining whether the control measures has introduced a new hazard that may have been previously overlooked.
Before acquiring equipment, the "buy quiet" process should be taken into account by:
- Discussing options with operators and supervisors;
- Working out maximum acceptable noise emission of equipment considering the noise conditions in the area where the equipment will be used;
- Obtaining information from supplier on noise emission. This includes A-weighted and peak sound pressure level and A-weighted sound power level.
Regular maintenance regime should be established aimed at noise control. During maintenance, regular checks should be made to noise sources and noise control devices:
- Machines (e.g. motors and pumps) and machine elements (e.g. gear boxes and bearings);
- Vibration isolators and impact absorbers;
- Acoustic enclosures and panels;
- Noise barriers and screens; and
- Noise control attachments such as exhaust silencers and acoustical lagging.
An audiometric testing should be carried out if staff is regualrly exposed to noise levels in excess of the standard set by NSW WHS Regulation 2011 Chapter 4 Part 4.1 Noise.
The testing should be undertaken by appropriately trained and experienced person. The audiometric testing scheme must be conducted within three (3) months of the worker commencing the work and at least every two (2) years;