Why Have A Noise Management Plan?

Why Have A Noise Management Plan?

Together with occupational noise monitoring, onsite audiometric testing (hearing test) plays an important role when looking to implement a hearing conservation program. The testing itself provides a company with the opportunity for real-world data measurements looking at occupational noise exposure levels and the rate at which peoples hearing is being affected.

A successfully implemented program aims to eliminate the risk of exposure to excessive noise levels in the workplace which can cause permanent, noise induced hearing loss. A site noise assessment should be designed to measure and identify the sources of excessive noise in the workplace so the implementation of noise control strategies can be sought to ensure noise exposure levels are kept as low as practicable.

Audiometric testing provides us with the opportunity to measure how much noise exposure a person has experienced at any given time. Regular and ongoing audiometry (minimum bi-annual) provides for a measure of hearing loss levels over time, so that high risk employees can be flagged early enough before there are major concerns. Meeting with individual employees on a face-to-face basis offers the platform to reinforce the importance of noise awareness practices and the correct application of hearing protection in the workplace.

The level of engagement with a workforce is key when looking to introduce a noise control management plan. Communication and involvement with each relevant stakeholder needs time and effort which doesn’t come easy if the necessary expertise and experience is absent.

Protecting your hearing at work is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace. In conjunction with engineering and administrative controls, workplaces must ensure employees using personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves from the harmful effects of excessive noise regularly undertake hearing checks. Hearing tests gauge how effective noise minimisation strategies are being implemented and whether or not control strategies are effectively working.

Onsite audiometric testing should be performed in an environment where extraneous noise and distractions are kept to a minimum. This is normally sound checked by ensuring background noise levels measure within specified limits as stipulated in Australian Standards.

Noise monitoring is performed as an assessment of exposure to excessive noise, with a focus on employees working in noisy areas or with noisy processes. A range of instruments may be utilised including a sound level meter and/or personal noise exposure dosimeters.