You can manage noise in the workplace by repairing and maintaining machinery, giving employees personal protective equipment (PPE), limiting the duration of exposure and changing the design of the workplace.
However, it obviously depends on how severe the noise is, and how many people are affected by it. These things are included in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 in the UK. They are an organisation’s legal duty, so everyone should comply.
How You Can Manage Noise in the Workplace
Good Maintenance of Machinery
Clean and well-maintained machinery operates to the best of its ability. If it is dirty, it will likely be much noisier. In addition, it will be slower or less efficient in its task.
Therefore, your organisation should have a maintenance policy in place. Not only does this reduce noise, but it saves money because machinery will last longer, meaning you don’t have to constantly buy new. Everyone knows the ‘like a well-oiled machine’ saying, and it really applies here.
In the future, if necessary, you should always attempt to replace broken parts. However, when you do require new machinery or tools, your organisation should do its best to purchase low-noise models.
Secondly, personal protective equipment is very useful to reduce noise and health damage.
Hearing PPE includes earmuffs or earplugs. Its main purpose is to prevent some of the noise from entering the ear. This means that only those wearing PPE will be protected.
Any piece of protective equipment needs to be properly stored and maintained. Good hygiene is crucial, because people may use the same item multiple times. Organisations should be aware of this, as there are a whole set of regulations for PPE.
Limit the Duration of Exposure
Another good way of reducing noise at work is to limit the time that an employee spends in a noisy environment.
An organisation could let a worker take regular breaks, or re-design their tasks to avoid the very noisy place. You could move them to another area of work, and only let them use the noisiest place for certain tasks. This should be the case if you work in a workshop but have a separate office.
Change Workplace Design
Finally, an organisation can change the design of a workplace to reduce noise.
One such example would be when you use machinery. To reduce noise levels at work, you can use rubber dampeners. If you place a piece of machinery on a rubber block or apply rubber feet, it will absorb some of the sound and vibration.
In addition, you could “use barriers and screens to block the direct path of the sound”.
Furthermore, if you haven’t done already, you could sound-proof the walls of a workshop. This is of course a larger task but will help if a workshop is close to another workplace. It is best practise to keep noisy areas and machinery away from other areas of work, but this is just in case.
Managing noise in the workplace is essential for employee health and safety. Although, not one of these solutions is perfect. Most of the time, you will need a combination or a mixture depending on your own specialised workplace. If an organisation fails to comply with the laws, they will be in serious trouble.
For more information, you can complete an eLearning course. Our online noise awareness training is part of our health and safety range and can prepare any workforce.