Noise What you should know BWF Health & Safety Hero Campaign
Noise - What are the Campaign Objectives • Campaign objectives will seek to highlight critical areas that require attention • Will provide guidance as to effectively deal with these • Highlight practical measures to be taken to control noise in the workshop
Is Noise a problem for the Woodworking Industry ? • Some of the noisiest working environments are found in the woodworking sector • Excessive noise can cause progressive and generally irreversible loss of hearing, this is known as noise induced hearing loss • Many woodworking machines and their processes give risk to noise levels above the legal limits • As an employer you have a duty to reduce the noise and protect all workers.
Understanding action values People working in most woodworking shops are likely to have a noise exposure that exceeds the upper exposure action value of 85 dB. This means that you must put noise controls in place. Particularly noisy machines include: • Vertical spindle moulders [around 100dB] • Thicknessers [around 104dB] • Multi-cutter moulders [around 105 dB] Note: as decibels (dB) work on a logarithmic scale a 3 dB increase will double the noise level.
What are the legal duties? • Noise is covered byThe Control of Noise At Work Regulations. • Employers are required to carry out an assessment of the noise levels in the working area and identify any high risk areas, where employees are likely to be exposed to noise levels high enough to cause hearing damage. • If you cannot eliminate noise, you must reduce it as low as possible at source. • There are noise exposure limits that must not be exceeded. These are • the first action level is 80 dB, • the second action level is 85dB,
Assessments - What does this involve? • An assessment should be carried out on your work place operations, to establish what the current noise levels are. • This will then determine what action has to be taken to either reduce or control the noise levels. • In the case of noise, any assessment should be carried out by a competent person who will need to have an understanding of how noise affects people and how to decide upon the most appropriate control measures
Reducing noise as low as possible at source. What would you suggest? • Consider the positioning of sources of noise such as machines, the extraction unit, radios etc. • Provide enclosures around noisy machines. • Ensure machines and the extraction is well maintained. • Change to quieter tooling
What do I need to tell my employees? Where they are exposed to high levels of noise, you should at least tell them: • The likely noise exposure and the risk to hearing this noise creates; • What you are doing to control noise and exposures; • Where and how people can obtain hearing protection and how to correctly use and store it; • How to report defects in hearing protection and noise-control equipment; • Any health surveillance you put in place.
Hearing Protection. What does this involve? • Hearing protection should only be provided as a last resort. You must reduce the noise level before you choose to use hearing protection as the only control measure • Generally both ear plugs and ear defenders provide adequate hearing protection • the type of hearing protection provided must be comfortable to wear, suitable for the job and compatible with any other personal protection worn • Employees’ preferences as to the type of hearing protection that they prefer to wear should be taken into account
Health Surveillance. What does this involve? • You must provide health surveillance (hearing checks) for all your employees who are likely to be regularly exposed above the upper exposure action values, or are at risk for any reason, e.g. they already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage
Summary • Assess the risks to your employees from noise at work • Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks • Provide your employees with hearing protection if you cannot reduce the noise exposure enough by using other methods • Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded • Provide your employees with information, instruction and training • Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.
Sources of Information • The Control of Noise At Work Regulations 2005 • BWF Guide to Health & Safety in the Woodworking Industry • BWF Publications www.bwf.org.uk/publications • HSE Web site – www.hse.gov.uk