The least effective controls in the hierarchy are administrative actions and personal protective equipment (PPE) because they
- do not stop hazardous noise at the source or in its pathway like the higher level controls
- rely on worker compliance and behaviour, and
- require supervision to ensure worker compliance
Administrative actions should provide a systematic framework that support the higher level WHS controls used and include:
- Provide quiet lunch and rest areas with low background noise levels where workers can spend their breaks away from noise.
- Safe work procedures that are developed in consultation with workers and enable them to undertake work activities safely, e.g.
- rotate workers to reduce individual exposure times
- restrict access to noisy areas
- proper maintenance program for plant, equipment and tools
- schedule activities involving hazardous noise to be done outside of normal hours or on shifts with fewer workers present, where possible
Workplace noise assessments to identify hazardous noise sources and recommended controls. SafeWork NSW recommends noise assessments are done in any noisy workplace. They should be carried out whenever there is:
- installation or removal of machinery
- a change in workload or equipment operating conditions that are likely to cause a significant change in noise levels
- a change in building structure that’s likely to affect noise levels
- modification of working arrangements that affect the length of time workers would spend in a noisy work environment
In order to get a true indication of a worker’s exposure to any hazardous noise, PCBU’s should:
- conducting a walk-through assessment of the workplace observing the work
- talk to workers about how work is carried out and ask about any problems they may have
- inspect the plant and equipment used during work activities
- observe plant and equipment when in use
- talk to manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations, health and safety specialists and professionals, and
- review any incident and monitor reports.
Any noise assessments must be done in strict accordance with AS/NZS1269.1:2005. A workplace noise assessment will provide the necessary information for you to:
- identify the workers who may be exposed to hazardous noise
- identify the machines and processes that are generating hazardous noise
- work out which high level controls will be the most effective
- also work out what level of hearing PPE that may be required for any leftover risk
SafeWork NSW recommends that the noise management plan includes a systematic workplace hearing conservation program to protect workers from the risk of hearing loss.