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Workplace Noise Assessment – Protecting Employees from Preventable Hearing Loss

June 7th, 2017

If you have to raise your voice to be heard at a distance of one metre then it is likely that workplace noise has reached perilous levels and a workplace noise assessment should be conducted.

Given noise-induced hearing loss is entirely preventable; any evidence of it in workers is intolerable, according to Dr Barry Chesson, a certified occupational hygienist with more than 40 years experience.


“If there are signs of hearing loss occurring in a workplace then that means things are extremely wrong. That should never occur,” said Dr Chesson. When asked about noise evaluation processes, many other experts said the key is to always detect which particular individuals are being exposed and their personal exposure levels.

Workplace noise assessors generally visit offices and factories and talk to people working out there and also have a look at the plans and designs of the units. They also identify the noisy sources and go ahead to consult with supervisors, managers and staffs to establish the nature of work and the patterns of noise exposure. Most of them carry devices called noise dosimeters which they usually take to every site to diagnose the main issue – noise pollution. The other type of assessment is fixed position sampling which determines the level of noise that exists at specific locations or from a particular piece of machinery.

Ultimately it is the exposure which people have in the course of their normal work day which actually determines the risk. The workplace noise assessment is performed under strict supervision of trained and experienced assessors to find out the exact noise dose or time-weighted noise average. Generally, it takes into account three factors which are:

  • The noise level of the source
  • The frequency of contact with the source
  • The length of time of each contact

Quite often people have some sort of knowledge about the noise level but forget about extent and frequency. A softer noise source with a high frequency of contact for long periods is more risky than a very loud noise source with no people in the area. Experts have recognized three management options for noise: engineering methods which eliminate or control the source, administrative controls and PPE.

As a hygienist we like to see organisations using the Hierarchy of Control and working their way down the list to use the most effective controls first. PPE is the very last line of defence but still features as a first line of defence in many organisations. The experts are working to ensure that hearing protection of all employees are guaranteed before installing any noise making equipment in the workplace and they are committed to ensure that. This is what we at Healthy Environments are focusing more to let every worker enjoy working in their respective offices and factories.