White Card Update: Importance of Managing Noise Hazards in Construction

WorkCover NSW has issued an alert to remind businesses to prioritise managing hazardous noise in the workplace.

According to WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division General Manager, John Watson, businesses are required by law to manage the risk of hearing loss from workplace noise. Many businesses are failing to do this which is resulting in millions of dollars worth of related compensation claims.

Read what a post on SafetyCulture.com.au went on to explain about the warning:

noise_control_sml__34886.1346109655.220.220“Hazardous noise can destroy the ability to hear clearly and make working safely more difficult,” said Mr Watson.

 

“From 2008/09 to 2010/11 there were 10753 claims for hearing loss throughout NSW at an estimated cost of more than $171 million to the NSW WorkCover Scheme.

 

“Hearing damage generally occurs gradually over a number of years and is often irreversible.

 

“Hearing can also be damaged immediately from exposure to impulse noise such as explosive powered nail guns, firearms and stamping presses.

 

“By managing the risks associated with noise, businesses can protect workers from hearing loss, improve conditions for communication and create a less stressful and more productive work environment.

 

Source: http://content.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/05/businesses-encouraged-to-manage-noise-in-the-workplace/

The warning is particularly relevant for members of the construction industry because it is one of the worst in terms of noise hazards. At any given time there are a number of different trades people doing a variety of different tasks, each presenting their own hazards and many of them very noisy. That is why safety is such an important issue on construction sites and hearing protection is one of the safety issues that need to be considered.

The assortment of machinery and equipment working together on a site contribute to the noise levels. This noise presents a hazard to workers hearing. Many workers are presented with this hazard daily and aren’t even aware that they’re hearing is in danger. Quite often a prolonged period of exposure to noise will result in hearing loss or depreciation of hearing, that is why WorkCover has urged those responsible for businesses to take action.

According to the post on SafetyCulture.com.au WorkCover has reminded businesses that inspectors are available to provide the necessary advice and assistance to businesses on the basic of managing noise and preventing hearing loss. They can also assist with identifying and managing noise hazards if necessary.

Watson went on to explain that while WorkCover recognises that safety improvements can be financially challenging, for example having to introduce PPE for each worker if hearing protection is needed, WorkCover can assist by providing a rebate of up to $500 to help small businesses buy and install safety improvements through its Small Business Rebate Program.

The following steps can be followed in identifying and addressing a noise hazard:

  • Once identifying the noise hazard, you should conduct a thorough walk through inspection of the workplace. This process should aim to determine the sources of the noise, the workers who are likely to be exposed to the noise, work processes that are noisy and contribute to the noise, ways of reducing the noise.
  • Identify Methods that can be used to control Noise levels.

Firstly attempt to eliminate the noise source. If it cannot be eliminated, substitute the noise causing elements, such as noisy machinery with quieter ones.  If this cannot be done, engineering controls can treat the noise at the source or in its transmission path.

  • Introducing administrative noise control measures (e.g. training and education, job rotation etc.) is also a control that can be implemented.
  • The final control measure is implementing hearing protection such as earmuffs.
  • Experts suggest a combination of more than one control in coordination to achieve the best results.