Control of noise in induction environment is an important challenge for health and safety managers. Some situation are inherently noisy and very difficult to control especially if old equipment is used and installations are complex. I have evaluated employees’ exposure to noise in a powder packaging unit. The unit consisted of one open plan packaging building divided into two packaging lines, office building and out of use production facility and garage. There were only two employees working in packaging area and their working day was approximately 9 hours long.
Their work consisted of connecting 400Kg bags to packaging machinery, empty bags of sizes between 1-10Kg were then filled by the packaging machine and manually put on desk. Once the desk was full of bags the operatives would seal each bag manually and put it into a transport container. In the bagging area 1 ton powder containers were manually decanted into the packaging machine delivery systems and automatically packed. The packaging process was supervised by two operatives.
The noise exposure of the operatives was caused by operation of rather old and battered packaging line. Further noise was caused by the operatives themselves when they had hit the conveyors to free clogged up lines.
I have carried out the assessment according to the requirements of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and relevant guidance. These regulations specify the responsibilities of employers, employees and machinery manufacturers in reducing the risk of hearing damage due to excessive noise at work. The regulations require the employer to identify if employees are exposed to a daily (or weekly) exposure level in excess of the Lower Action Value of 80 dB(A) or the Peak Action Value of 135 dB(C); identify if employees are exposed to daily (or weekly) exposure levels in excess of the Upper Action Value of 85 dB(A) or the Peak Action Value of 137 dB(C) ; identify if employees exposed to daily (or weekly) exposure levels in excess of the Limit Value of 87 dB(A) or the Peak Limit Value of 140 dB(C).
I have observed the working practices of the employees and the tasks they have to complete during their whole working day. I have carried out measurement task specific noise levels in order identify the most significant contributors to the employee’s overall exposure levels.
My measured confirmed that despite all the bashing and hitting the employees have to do the keep the line going the overall daily noise exposure levels did not exceed the lower action value stated in the noise control regulations.