Occupational Exposure to Noise
Due to our thorough and high standard of service it is not uncommon for us to get invited back to companies we have previously carried out assessments for. This project was no exception as we were invited back by a regular client to carry out an assessment of occupational exposure to noise. The property we visited was a factory situated in Little Hampton which specialises in the production of plastic components for automotive and retail industry. The production facility is situated in an open plan production area and is divided into a blow mould area, injection moulding area, grinding area, secondary production area, tool shop and staff offices and welfare facilities. The factory operates continuous production and employs approximately 20 operatives in the production areas. It is believed that the typical exposure time for employees within the working day is 11 and a half hours. In order to reduce the employees occupational exposure, the employers assign employees to particular locations/tasks for the duration of the day however they are rotated each day and are entitled to a 30 minute break in which they spend away from the production area.
Noise Assessment Methodology
In order to carry out a noise assessment our surveyor had to take measurements using a precision sound analyser B&K Precision Sound Level Meter type 2236. Measurements of A-weighted sound pressure levels and C-weighted peak sound pressure levels were taken at the employees’ ear position, whilst they were carrying out typical work operations. Our surveyor was then able to calculate the daily personal exposure and the time the employee is likely to be exposed to the noise using these measurements. Additional measurements were also taken these include C-weighted sound pressure levels and Octave band frequencies. Once collected, these measurements could be confidently used as a base for an action plan to minimise the risk of exposure to excessive noise.
Conclusions and recommendations based on noise assessment
The assessment showed that the daily personal exposure levels of operatives working in the blow mould area and grinding area were likely to exceed the recommended noise level. The operatives working in the secondary production and injection moulding area are likely to be exposed to noise levels below the recommended noise level. In order to comply with Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 the assessment should be reviewed and updated when/if circumstances change in the workplace which might alter the level of exposure (e.g. changes in the way employees or processes work, machinery is repositioned or new machinery is installed, etc.)Where there have been no changes, a review of the risk assessment should still be carried out every two years. The regulation states that the noise exposure should be reduced to as low a level as reasonably practicable by establishing and implementing a programme of organisational and technical measures. It is the employers responsibility to ensure that the risk from exposure to noise for the employees is either eliminated at the source or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduced to as low a level as is reasonably practicable by means other than the provision of hearing protection. We recommended our client to employ a low noise purchase policy for new equipment and to continue the regular rotation of staff between quieter and noisier areas.