Exposure to excessive noise over a long period of time will damage a person’s hearing. There are noise exposure levels set for safety, but recent changes to noise regulations mean that employers no longer need to test exposure levels before implementing controls unless there is a doubt about the level of noise actually being hazardous. As a guide, if you are unable to carry on a normal conversation with a person standing next to you without raising your voice then the noise exposure is probably too high.
Legislation states that noise “Must not exceed an 8-hour noise level equivalent of 85 dB(A) or peak at more than 140 dB(C)”. If noise exposure levels are measured under these limits, it is still important to attempt to reduce them as much as possible.
Where noise levels exceed these limits it must be managed in line with the hierarchy of control:
- eliminate the noisy plant item;
- substitute the noisy plant with less noisy plant;
- isolate by moving noisy plant away from employees;
- engineer out by coating metal parts in plastic to reduce noise on contact;
- limit exposure to the noise; and
- enforce hearing protection.
Where/when would these issues be relevant?
The are a number of activities and locations that may expose employees and students to hazardous noise levels:
- technology rooms through the use of power tools and other workshop equipment (e.g. band saws);
- in music rooms through amplified musical equipment or within the working space of a large orchestra; and
- on occasions when maintenance work creates hazardous levels of noise.
What do I need to do?
- Consult with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) and employees to identify any work practices, plant / equipment or environments where noise levels may be hazardous;
- Measure noise levels if required. Assistance with this can be obtained through DEECD Regional OHS/WorkCover Advisors and the OHS Advisory Service;
- Control the noise levels in accordance with the hierarchy of controls - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as ear plugs are low order controls – higher order controls are recommended first; and
- If any employees are exposed regularly to hazardous levels of noise they will need to have their hearing monitored. Music and technology teachers are eligible for hearing tests and ongoing hearing monitoring where necessary.
Hearing Tests & Monitoring
If any employees are exposed regularly to hazardous levels of noise they will need to have their hearing monitored. Music and technology teachers are eligible for hearing tests and ongoing hearing monitoring where necessary.
- Schools are required to pay for the audiology tests/monitoring of their eligible employees; and
- Schools should then send a copy of the paid invoice to the DEECD Employee Health Unit for full reimbursement.
Legislation, guidance and codes of practice
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
OHS Risk Management (PDF - 279Kb)
Hygiene Management Procedure (PDF - 235Kb)
OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715
DEECD Regional OHS/WorkSafe Advisors