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Labour News.

Zero in on Safety- Count down to the proclamation of the SHaW Act on or before January 1, 2013

Occupational Noise


 Occupational Noise Induced hearing Loss

Exposure to excessive noise levels can over time cause hearing loss. Initially the hearing loss is reversible, referred to as temporary threshold shift (TTS). Continued exposure to excessive noise levels can result in permanent hearing loss known as permanent threshold shift (PTS).Scientific evidence indicates that prolonged exposure to noise levels above 85 dBA will cause hearing loss.

In addition excessively high levels of noise can cause accidents and affect production, through the inability to communicate and hear warning and other signals.


Legislative requirement

Section 56 of SHaW requires owners, occupiers or employers to:

  • Take adequate steps to prevent hearing impairment caused by noise
  •  Ensure that personal protection equipment (hearing protection) is worn and used by employees
  • To arrange for the initial and periodic medical examination and assessment of employees who are likely to be exposed to noise


How to determine whether you are at risk?

 As a rule of thumb, when you stand at an arm’s length from your co-worker and you are not able to communicatein a normal tone of voice, then the noise level is too high.


How can you control noise at work?

Noise should be controlled at the source whenever possible. If that cannot be effectively achieved, the path to the worker should be blocked. As a last resort, appropriate personal protective equipment can be used but it must be correctly worn at all times during exposure.

 Where the workplace has noisy equipment the following actions will help:

  1. Entirely enclose machines that produce excessivelevels of noise. If this is not possible, encloseparticularly noisy parts of machines.
  2. If possible, position noisy machines outside the workplace and cover them withappropriate structures.
  3. If it is not practical to position noisy machines outside, then consider relocating those machines so that theyare at a distance from the place where most of theworkers are working.  Alternatively, the workers can be positioned to work further away from the machines.
  4. Provide screens or partitions that would absorb the noise so as to isolate noisymachines from other workers in the same area.
  5. Provide hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or ear muffs. Please note that providing hearing protection is not sufficient, the SHaW Act requires that they be correctly worn and their use enforced.


Maintenance may be help to reduce noise


Remember noise levels from tools and equipment will increase as a result of poor maintenance or unnecessary vibration. It is important to ensure that tools and equipment are regularly serviced and maintained.


For more information visit the Ministry of Labour’s website at http: or contact the Labour Department at 310-1524.

Published: Monday, 26th November, 2012


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