On 6 April 2006, the Control of Noise at Work regulations replaced the 1990 Noise at Work regulations. The aim of the regulations is to reduce the risk of hearing loss / deafness due to exposure to high noise levels. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and incurable. It adds to the hearing loss that occurs naturally through ageing. This can result in a very severe handicap later in life, making it very difficult to hear what others are saying, and spoiling enjoyment of music, etc.
The requirements of the Control of Noise at Work regulations were specified by a European regulation - EU Directive (Physical Agents - Noise). This greatly complicates the situation regarding noise at work. Whereas the 1990 Noise at Work regulations had 3 action levels, the Control of Noise at Work regulations have 6!
However, most companies do not have to concern themselves with 4 of the action levels within the Control of Noise at Work regulations. Most companies only need to be concerned with 2 action levels. These are shown below, together with the main actions required by the Control of Noise at Work regulations:-
1. Reduce noise levels
2. Wear ear protectors
3. Install warning signs
4. Provide regular hearing tests
1. Measure / assess workers' noise exposures. Repeat when there have been significant changes, and at suitable intervals (HSE recommends reviews at least every 2 years).
2. Train workers on hearing loss risks and how to minimise them.
3. Make ear protectors available.
4. Provide regular hearing tests for any employees who are particularly susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss.
Peak Noise Levels
In a few companies, workers are subjected to very high levels of impact noise (peaks of 135 dBC, or above). Where noise peaks of this level are likely to occur, the regulations apply additional (peak) noise action levels. Such high levels of noise are rare, and this only affects a few companies.
In due course, more detailed information on the Control of Noise at Work regulations will be added to this page. We will also update the page when any changes are made to the regulations. To find this page quickly in future, bookmark this page.
To obtain details of the peak noise action levels, or more information on the regulations, please click on contact us about control of noise at work regulation, then request our 'Noise at Work guide'.
For more information on the risks and effects of exposure to loud noise, click on effects of loud noise at work