Noise at work, Occupational Noise Mapping
When the daily exposure to noise is more than 85 dB(A), plans must be made and
executed to lower the noise level and reduce the exposure to noise in order to
protect the workers.
When workers are exposed to a sound level of 80 dB(A), appropriate and individual hearing protection must be available for them. The worker is obliged to use hearing protection if the daily exposure level exceeds 85 dB(A).
Under no circumstance, a daily exposure level of 87 dB(A) may be exceeded. For this exposure limit level of 87 dB(A), the damping effect of hearing protection may be taken into account.
A noise survey at the workplace has to be conducted if it is likely that the average level exceeds 80 dB(A) which is the case for most factories and offshore industry.
The international standard ISO 9612 describes the way how an occupational noise survey has to be performed. Most larger industries have to comply with the ISO 9612. At many places, it is common to create a noise map. On an occupational noise map, it is very easy to see the areas where the maximum levels are exceeded and how many people are exposed. Time limits can be imposed for certain locations for workers or noise reduction measures can be implemented. After the implementation of the mitigation measures, it is easy to make the effects visible in the occupational noise map.
Effects of noise
Excessive noise harms the hearing. The hearing organs are microscopic precision instruments that can, in cooperation with a powerful processor (our brains), discriminate and analyze complex signals.
Hearing damage caused by noise is irreversible and has an adverse effect on our ability to communicate and enjoy life. Communication problems caused by impaired hearing can cause problems at work too and even lead to safety risks.
Noise levels that do not directly threaten our ears frequently influence our performance in a negative way. Moderate noise levels can decrease concentration and communication and in the end the quality of the product or service.
A quiet working environment is not a luxury, it’s a necessary quality that will give better performance and well-being of the workers.
Excessive noise not only affects the health of the employees, but it also affects their attitude and performance. In this way, high noise levels are relevant to the quality of the product. This knowledge may change your ideas about the costs of noise reduction.
EU portal on noise at work