It is important for employers to assess and identify measures to reduce risks from exposure to noise and to protect the hearing of employees. In extreme cases, noise at work can lead to hearing loss that may be temporary or permanent and therefore require a prioritised noise-control action plan.

Employers may need to protect workers from noise in the workplace under the Control of Noise Regulations 2005.  Within a factory environment, sources of excessive noise could be power tools or machinery operating or impact noise from hammering, drop forging or impact tools for example.

In lesser cases, the control measures required may be relatively simple and inexpensive.

HSE guidelines state that a noise survey may be required if:-

  • The noise is intrusive e.g. similar to a busy street, vacuum cleaner or crowded restaurant for most of the working day
  • Employees have to raise their voices to have a normal conversation when 2m apart
  • For more than half an hour each day employees use noisy powered tools or machinery
  • It is a noisy industry, e.g. construction, demolition, road repair, woodworking, plastics processing, engineering, textile manufacture, general fabrication, forging, pressing, stamping, paper or board making, canning, bottling or foundries
  • There are impact noises, e.g. hammering, drop forging or pneumatic impact tools or explosive sources

Note:     Noises can also be a safety hazard while at work as communication and warnings can be harder to hear.