The elimination of a source of noise is the most effective way to prevent risks to workers, and should always be considered when new work equipment or workplaces are planned. A ‘no noise or low noise’ procurement policy is usually the most cost effective way to prevent or control noise.
This is a useful page by EU-OSHA on noise prevention. It covers assessing the risks, taking steps to prevent or control risks, eliminating the noise source, control of noise at the source, noise monitoring, the use of personal protective equipment and the importance of employee involvement.
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is prevalent in many industries worldwide. 360 million people globally suffer hearing loss, with half of the cases preventable (WHO).
Noise doesn’t have to be extremely loud to have consequences in the workplace. Hazards to workers can include an increased risk of accidents due to warnings being drowned out and increased prevalence of work-related stress.
Noise prevention makes sense for workers’ welfare, but it also makes good business sense – reduced number of worker injuries and absences.
Like any other occupational health measure in the workplace, noise prevention should come before individual protection methods such as personal protective equipment. However, if all of the risks from noise cannot be engineered out of a process then appropriate PPE needs to be made available and worn correctly by workers.
Worker engagement and appropriate training form important parts of eliminating the risks from noise and providing a safe and healthy environment for workers and the public.
Contains information published by EU_OSHA: Copyright 1998-2016 European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.
Image by kind permission of Seton UK