Noise management

Principals and school staff must follow the Noise Management Policy, Noise Management Procedure and Resource section which are available in the Policy and Advisory Library (PAL).

Corporate and regional staff should refer to the following information.

 Guidance on 'annoyance noise'

'Annoyance' noise is below the exposure standard and is unlikely to pose a risk to hearing. 'Annoyance' noise may interfere with communication, annoy or distract people e.g. photocopiers or telephone conversations.

If the workplace needs to control 'annoyance noise' there several things that can be done:

  • isolate noisy equipment e.g. placing printers/photocopiers into a separate room
  • use sound absorbing material e.g. carpet, wall panels, acoustic-grade dividing screens
  • lower the volume on the telephone
  • encourage employees to conduct meetings away from work area

Guidance on 'excessive' noise

Sound pressure is measured in decibels (dB).

Exposure to excessive noise over a long period of time will damage a person's hearing. The national exposure standard states that noise "must not exceed an 8-hour noise level equivalent of 85 dB(A) or a maximum (peak) at no more than 140 dB(C)".

There are a number of activities and environments that may expose employees to excessive noise levels such as on occasions when maintenance work creates hazardous levels of noise.

The workplace manager and/or management OHS nominee should consult with employees and health and safety representatives to identify any work practice, plant/equipment or environments where noise levels may be excessive. If it is identified that noise levels may be excessive, please contact the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 for further information.

Noise level [dB(A)] and maximum exposure time to ensure that 85 dB(A) is not exceeded:

  • 85: 8 hours
  • 88: 4 hours
  • 91: 2 hour
  • 94: 1 hour
  • 97: 30 minutes
  • 100: 15 minutes
  • 103: 7.5 minutes
  • 106: 3.8 minutes
  • 109: 1.9 minutes

Apply risk controls

The OHS Regulations 2017 have specific requirements for the control of noise above the exposure standard. They set out specified risk control measures, to be used in order. Work through the following list to control noise risks. This is called the hierarchy of control:

  1. eliminate the source of the noise (e.g., do not use item of plant)
  2. substituting quieter plant or processes
  3. isolate the item of plant (e.g., using barriers, mufflers or enclosures)
  4. engineering (e.g., by coating metal parts in plastic to reduce noise on contact)
  5. administration by limiting time of exposure to the noise.

If an employee is still exposed to noise that exceeds the exposure standard after implementing the controls above, the workplace manager must provide hearing protectors to reduce the exposure to a level below the noise exposure standard.

When selecting hearing protectors, consideration should be given to:

  • the employee
  • the nature of the noise in the workplace
  • noise levels in the workplace
  • the duration of exposure to noise
  • systems of work at the workplace

Different classes of hearing protectors offer different levels of sound attenuation as described in Table 1. 

Table 1: Recommended class of hearing protector

Recommended noise range

dB(A)

Class of hearing protector

​Sound level conversion

Less than 90110 to 13
​90 to less than 95​2​14 to 17
​95 to less than 100​3​18 to 21
​100 to less than 105​4​22 to 25
​105 to less than 100​5​26 to 36

Hearing protector signs and labels

Where hearing protection is required as a control measure, the workplace manager must clearly identify by signs, labelling of plant or safe work procedures, when and where the hearing protectors are to be worn.

Audiometric testing

Where hearing protection is required as a control measure, the workplace manager must provide audiometric testing for those employees within three months after the employee commences work in relation to which the hearing protection is required and every two years thereafter.

Audiological examination

Where the results of two consecutive audiometric tests of an employee indicate a reduction in hearing levels  equal to or greater than 15dB at 3000 Hertz (Hz), 4000 Hz or 6000 Hz, the workplace manager must provide for the employee to undergo an audiological examination as soon as is reasonably practicable.

The workplace manager must request from the Audiologist conducting the examination a report that contains the results of the examination and states whether or not the employee has suffered hearing loss that is likely to be due to exposure to noise.

Audiometric testing and audiological examination reports

The workplace manager must retain the test results and examination report for relevant employees indefinitely.

Legislation, guidance and compliance codes

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017
  • WorkSafe Victoria Compliance Code: Noise

Contact us

 OHS Advisory Service on ph. 1300 074 715 or email: safety@education.vic.gov.au.

Further information