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Ensure workplace safety with a noise risk assessment

Ensures that the noise levels in the workplace are not harmful to the workers

What is a noise risk assessment checklist?

A noise risk assessment is conducted to identify sources of noise risks and how they affect employees. Noise assessments are required to protect the health and safety of workers. It ensures that the noise levels in the workplace should not exceed the regulatory levels.

Employers must provide their staff exposed to noise levels that are 85 decibels and above with hearing protection. They should also designate hearing protection zones to protect the workers. Employees who are exposed to high noise levels should also undergo hearing tests regularly.

A noise risk assessment will help:

  • Determine the noise sources and activities that might cause the risk<7li>
  • Find out which employees are at risk of hearing loss
  • Check if the existing control measures are still effective or not

In this article, the following points are explained:

1. How to identify noise hazards at work

2. How to eliminate noise hazards

3. Advantages of a digital tool for noise risk assessments

How to identify noise hazards at work

Noise becomes hazardous when it begins to interfere with communication and causes health problems. This kind of noise usually measures 85 decibels and above.

A typical conversation is usually around 55 decibels, while a drill or chainsaw is about 110 decibels. But if you have no measuring tools to determine the noise level, here are some practical ways to identify a noise hazard.

  1. Look for Signs
    If you see safety signage that indicates a known noise hazard, and there’s a necessity of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it is a noise hazard. However, despite the signs and warnings in place, an area can still be unsafe if noisy machinery is present.
  2. Shout at an Arm’s Length
    Another fast method of testing if there is a potential noise hazard in an area is to place workers at arm’s length from each other and have them talk. If one participant is already raising his voice, but the other has a hard time hearing what he’s saying, there is most likely a noise hazard. It’s also a practical way of keeping workers safe. If workers cannot hear each other in that environment, what is the possibility that they can listen to someone shouting for help?
  3. Non Stop Humming or Whirring
    If you hear a constant humming or whirring sound in your ear after leaving work, or you can still hear the machines, or even have difficulty hearing others, you are most likely suffering from temporary hearing damage. You must report this to your immediate supervisor so they can conduct a noise risk assessment in your workplace. You should also seek medical advice to prevent your condition from worsening.
  4. Presence of Related Health Issues
    Several grave health issues are directly linked to too much exposure to noise hazards. Some of these illnesses include:
    • Decrease in concentration and coordination over time
    • Fatigue and sleeping problems
    • Increased stress and nervousness
    If the conditions above are not appropriately addressed, they could lead to another set of health issues. If you have experienced one of these problems because of the noisy work conditions, you should immediately inform your immediate supervisor about your health condition.

    Noise hazards at work can be eliminated by using two types of controls — administrative and engineering. Administrative controls are changes that can limit or remove a worker’s exposure to noise hazards. Engineering controls are changes that decrease the sound level in the workplace.

How to eliminate noise hazards

Eliminating noise hazards can be costly. Here are some cost-effective ways to reduce the risk of noise hazards.

1. Regular machine maintenance

A well-oiled machine will function correctly and with less noise. Regular maintenance inspections will prolong the life of the machine and ensure that it is working at its optimum performance. Most of all, it reduces potential noise hazards that an ill-maintained device might have.

2. Limit the shifts

Limiting the shifts of employees exposed to noise hazards is a type of administrative control. By having shorter shifts, their exposure to hazardous noise becomes limited as well. Consequently, it will also reduce negative health effects in their body.

Limiting the work hours of employees is also cost-effective. According to a case study conducted by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), fixing a worker’s hearing is more expensive than managing the noise hazard. It is cheaper than running a hearing conservation program for employees.

3. Isolate the noise

Enclosing the cause of the noise is a simple and less expensive way of reducing the noise hazard. It is also the best solution if you cannot move heavy machinery to another place. An enclosure will muffle the sound of the machine.

If people must operate these machines, management should limit their shifts to avoid too much exposure.

4. Use of PPE

There is personal protective equipment (PPE) that can cancel the noise. Some of this includes earplugs or earmuffs. However, PPEs should only be used in workplaces with low levels of noise hazards or just as a temporary solution.

Advantages of a digital tool for noise risk assessment checklist

Noise hazards are among the most significant risks in the workplace. This makes it all the more important to conduct regular noise risk assessments to identify and eliminate hazards at an early stage. Traditionally, such assessments are conducted with pen and paper. However, this method is prone to lose, damage, and unauthorized access. Switching to digital forms and checklists offers companies many benefits for document management and workplace safety.

With Lumiform’s mobile app and desktop software, audits and inspections can be conveniently conducted on-site without the need to revise the data afterward. After each noise risk assessment, the collected data is immediately stored digitally, securely, and centrally in the cloud. This means that all responsible employees have immediate access to the information. But that’s just one of the benefits Lumiform offers companies in managing their occupational health and safety measures:

  • Get started digitally right away: the Lumiform’s Template Library offers numerous, ready-to-use templates for various use cases in occupational health and safety.
  • The digital templates can be easily customized with the form builder to the company’s needs.
  • Easily collect information for noise risk assessment via the app on the smartphone or tablet on-site – online or offline.
  • Assign tasks and corrective actions immediately via the mobile device. Via the dashboard, simultaneously monitor which tasks have been assigned and completed and which are overdue.
  • Automatically create reports after each risk assessment, which can be shared immediately with others.
  • Analyze the data obtained in the desktop software to identify vulnerabilities in occupational safety and health at an early stage and respond immediately.
  • Automatically upload risk assessment data via secure cloud storage to ensure no information is lost or accessible to unauthorized parties.

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