12 Ways to Make Small Businesses Safer
Exposure to prolonged or sudden loud noise can cause hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Loud or constant noise at the workplace (for example, hammering, loud music or high pitched machines) is a major cause of hearing loss.
Noise is considered dangerous if employees are exposed to noise that exceeds the exposure standard of 85 decibels averaged over an eight-hour period, or a maximum noise level of 140 decibels.
You may have dangerous levels of noise and exceed the exposure standard in your workplace if:
- it is difficult to hear someone speaking to you from one metre away
- employees notice temporary hearing loss or ringing in the ears after leaving work
- employees need to use hearing protection
- warning signals, alarms or sirens cannot be heard over other noises.
If you are not sure, engage a suitably qualified noise specialist to take noise measurements using calibrated equipment and ask them to interpret and report the results.
Protect your employees from noise exposure by:
- isolating, enclosing or replacing noisy machines
- using silencers or mufflers to reduce air or exhaust noise from equipment.
- improving the precision of production processes to avoid having to grind, cut or trim products using noisy equipment
- maintaining machines regularly and replacing noisy bearings where necessary.
Display hearing protection signage where hearing protection needs to be worn.
Ensure employees who need to wear hearing protection:
- undergo a pre-employment hearing test and are tested every two years
- are provided with the right level of hearing protection and consulted about its selection
- are trained how to fit hearing protection properly and supervised to make sure it is worn when required.
View WorkSafe's guidance, Noise problems at work – A guide for assessing and fixing