By providing staff with Personal Protective Equipment, businesses minimise noise risks and promote a safe workplace.

Here are two ways you can avoid costly mistakes

Have you heard about how wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) keeps employees safe from noise exposure risks? Workers across many industries require a good hearing ability to effectively complete their duties, as it helps them communicate with others, and be aware of their surroundings and sudden changes to their work environment. As worksites across a wide range of industries may be exposed to loud noise risks, it is crucial that employers take appropriate action to mitigate these risks, keep their staff safe, and their worksite productive. There are several strategies available to businesses looking to mitigate loud noise exposure, such as providing staff with appropriate PPE, which is portable equipment they can use to cover their ears, protecting themselves from excessive noise exposure in the process. This article will discuss the correct PPE to be used for noise hazard management, based on the Hierarchy of Control.

PPE controls noise and protects staff

Existing work health and safety legislation requires businesses to comply with the Hierarchy of Control measures when working to control and minimise noise risks. This is a risk-based framework that requires organisations to address their noise hazards in a systematic manner, by initially attempting to control risks through strategies that offer the highest degree of protection and consistency, and then working their way down to strategies that offer reduced levels of protection.

This control hierarchy requires businesses to first attempt to reduce onsite noise risks, through strategies such as minimising loud noise sources. For example, by keeping excessively loud machinery turned off except when in use, businesses will be actively creating a safer workplace for staff, one that is more conducive to productivity.

However, if businesses are unable to thoroughly reduce noise risks, the business must then move to the next step in the Control Hierarchy, of minimising noise risks through substitution, isolation and engineering strategies. This step sees organisations attempt to substitute the noise risks with quieter, safer alternatives, such as by swapping an overly loud machine with a quieter one. They should also implement isolation strategies, where noise risk sources are isolated from staff, such as by being moved into different rooms or areas, thus keeping employees safe from noise risks.

Finally, to mitigate any noise risks that still exist after the following steps have been implemented, companies should be providing their staff with appropriate personal protective equipment. This refers to anything worn by people to protect themselves from noise risks, and includes protective equipment such as:

  • Earmuffs: This type of PPE is a portable solution that offers a degree of noise protection against external sources. Worn over the head and ears like a set of headphones, they work at mitigating external noise sources, thus protecting the hearing of users. Different styles of earmuffs will provide various degrees of noise protection, so it is important that businesses have an onsite noise assessment conducted of their premises, to ascertain the degree of noise exposure staff are at risk of. Once this has been determined, businesses can provide staff with appropriate noise-cancelling earmuffs.
  • Earplugs: When it comes to effective noise cancelling PPE, earplugs are one of the better options. They are smaller, lighter, and easier to carry around than earmuffs, and offer stronger noise protection than them, as they fit directly into the ear canal, as opposed to earmuffs which are just placed externally. They offer a high degree of protection against excessive noise sources, with one of their key benefits being that they mitigate excessive noises without cancelling all external noise sources. This means that users can continue to have conversations with their colleagues at a normal sound level, while still being protected against excessively loud noises.

Contact our noise assessment specialists to find out which PPE suits your business

This article has briefly discussed how noise controlling PPE fits within the Hierarchy of Control for risk mitigation. However, many businesses may be wondering whether their onsite noises are exceeding compliance levels, whether their staff are being adversely affected, what type of PPE they should be providing their staff with, and so on.

Please contact our noise assessment specialists today by filling out this simple online contact us form, or by calling them on 1300 802 163 for a brief, obligation-free discussion about effective onsite noise control strategies your business could be implementing, what type of PPE your staff should be wearing, and so on. In addition to advising you about the specifics of this process, they can arrange for a qualified noise assessment specialist to travel to your worksite, under COVID-Safe conditions, to conduct an onsite noise assessment. This process will determine the scope of noise risks staff are exposed to, and help the business develop effective, compliant strategies for bringing these risks down to compliant levels, and ensuring they stay there. Wouldn’t you agree that this is an important topic worth hearing more about?

Please click here to read about how onsite audiometric testing promotes staff safety.