Prevention and Protection Measures against Noise at the Workplace

Most of the effects of noise pollution, especially the health problems, are better solved through preventive measures than treatments. Health effects of noise are prevented mainly by reducing noise at the source. Therefore, in order to prevent negative effects of noise pollution, it is important to identify the source of noise.

Defining Occupational Exposure Limits

In order for a company to deal effectively with noise problems, it needs to define the required Occupational Exposure Limits (OEL) required from the source of noise. OEL refers to the maximum amount of noise exposure by a worker without using hearing protection devices. In order to arrive at occupational exposure limits for a worker, it is important to consider the loudness of the noise. Noise loudness is measured in decibels (dBA). Another consideration in determination of an OEL apart from loudness of the noise is the duration of exposure to the noise. This measured in number of hours per day (H/D). After determining the maximum amount of noise that the workers should be exposed to, the employer should establish noise management program that may be used to control the noise to the required levels.

Noise Management Programs

Excess noise occurs when noise at workplace exceeds Occupational Exposure Limits. At this level, noise may be considered as environmental pollutant. Employers may reduce excess noise to the required level by developing a noise management program which undertakes the following noise management activities: educating workers, measuring and monitoring sound levels, controlling noise exposure and using hearing protection devices.

Educating Workers

Workers who have been exposed to noise beyond the Occupational Exposure Limits should be trained and given instructions about noise as an environmental contaminant, its impact on their health, protection mechanisms against it, employees’ responsibilities and roles in the program. Workers should be trained to comply with the employer’s program as a condition of employment. Regular and consistent training and education of workers enables them to understand the importance of protecting their hearing at work or at home.

Measuring and monitoring sound levels

A survey should be conducted at the workplace to determine noise hazards in the company’s work environment and the workers who are likely to be affected by noise levels exceeding OELs. These surveys are carried out by measuring the loudness of noise and the duration of exposure of workers to such levels (Gertz & Di, 2012). Once measured, the noise levels are then regularly monitored to see if there is a positive progress to reduce excess noise

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