Noise Reduction at Work
The workplace is a major source of daily noise in many people's lives. Here is a four step plan to reduce your noise exposure - and preserve your hearing - while at work.
1. Recognise the Risks
If you need to raise your voice to carry on a normal conversation at work due to noise, then it’s likely that the surrounding noise levels are too high. This is particularly important if you are exposed to these noise levels for significant periods throughout your normal work routine.
2. Discuss the Risks with Others
If you are concerned about workplace noise or in doubt about your workplace noise levels, discuss it with your supervisor, manager or colleagues. Remember everybody shares responsibility for workplace health and safety. If you are concerned about your hearing, see a health care professional.
3. Understand the Workplace Regulations
Steps have been taken through occupational health and safety legislation to limit the noise levels to which workers are exposed. Familiarise yourself with the regulations relating to noise levels at work in your state.
4. Use Control Methods to Reduce Noise Exposure
The National Acoustic Laboratories recommends a series of controls to reduce noise levels at work. Listed in order of importance, these include:
- eliminate the hazard by eliminating the source of the noise
- minimise the risk through engineering noise controls or by substituting noisy equipment
- remove staff from noisy areas or arrange to produce noise at times when there are fewer staff
- wear hearing protection, also known as personal protective equipment, such as ear plugs and ear muffs
- access education and training on the management of noise.
References and Further Reading
Australian Hearing, Protecting Your Hearing
National Acoustic Laboratories, Workplace Noise, Hearing Loss Prevention (Protection)
Safe Work Australia, Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Australia, August 2010