The Control of Noise at Work (UK) Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) is the key piece of legislation which makes requirements of employers to attempt to avert or minimise health and safety risks arising from exposure to excessive noise at work. This is of particular relevance to those working in the drilling and construction industry in general.

Practical Requirements of the Act

The Noise Regulations Act 2005 requires employers to take steps to assess potential risks to employees from noise in the place of work. Subsequent to the risk analysis, employers must take corrective action to reduce levels of excessive sound pressure in the workplace. If the nature of the task being undertaken in the workplace means that the noise levels cannot be reduced, the Noise Regulations Act requires employers to furnish staff with adequate and appropriate hearing protection, to minimise risks of hearing damage.

Employers are also required to be aware of the legal limits of noise exposure and ensure that these levels are not being exceeded, and to duly carry out periodic health surveillance where there is a clear and present risk to health. In addition, the aforementioned legislation requires the employer to provide staff with appropriate information, instruction and training.

Noise levels

The regulations require employers to undertake specific corrective action at certain action values (i.e measurement of noise levels). These pertain to the levels of noise exposure endured by employees over an average day or week, and the maximum noise levels that employees are experiencing in their workplace. The specific levels are divided into lower exposure action values and upper exposure action values. The lesser values are daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB and peak sound pressure of 135 dB. The highest acceptable values are a daily or weekly exposure to levels of 85 dB, and a maximum sound pressure of 137 dB. In addition there are stipulated levels of sound exposure, (known as exposure limit values) which it is not permitted to exceed. Specifically these values are a daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB; and a maximum sound pressure of 140 dB.

Assessment of Risks

In the carrying out of a risk assessment, an employer must identify where the risk of noise is highest and identify possible affected persons. It is imperative that a competent and qualified assessor is undertaking the task, if the company does not have suitably qualified personnel, an outside service provider should be hired. Estimates must be made regarding the employee exposure, and the collated data must be compared with the levels stipulated in the legislation. The assessor must identify what steps are necessary to ensure compliance with the legislation, but must also take into context the nature of work being undertaken in the workplace. Specifically, the drilling and construction industry can use data from suppliers of plant and building site machinery as well as the results of industry wide surveys as a benchmark and terms of reference for assessments.

Drilltec Ltd

Drilltec provide high quality services in demolition and construction projects. Based in Luton, Drilltec offer a specialist nationwide service in industrial drilling, concrete sawing and cutting that is fully compliant with all aspects of the relevant legislation regarding workplace health and safety. Please call us for more information on our services.