The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) came into force for all industry sectors in Great Britain on 6 April 2006 (except for the music and entertainment sectors where they came into force on 6 April 2008).
The aim of the Noise Regulations is to ensure that workers' hearing is protected from excessive noise at their place of work, which could cause them to lose their hearing and/or to suffer from tinnitus (permanent ringing in the ears).
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 replace the Noise at Work Regulations 1989.
The level at which employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is now 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure) and the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers' health and provide them with information and training is now 80 decibels. There is also an exposure limit value of 87 decibels, taking account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection, above which workers must not be exposed.
Guidance on the 2005 Regulations can be found in the HSE publications Noise at work: A brief guide to controlling the risks and Controlling Noise at Work
Both the 1989 and the 2005 sets of noise regulations are based on European Union Directives requiring similar basic laws throughout the Union on protecting workers from the health risks caused by noise. They do not apply to members of the public exposed to noise from their non-work activities, or when they make an informed choice to go to noisy places or from nuisance noise.
The 2005 Noise Regulations replace the 1989 Noise Regulations and introduce new requirements for action to be taken by employers. For example, the 2005 Regulations require employers to take action to protect workers at levels of noise 5 decibels lower than in the 1989 Regulations and now require health surveillance (hearing checks) for workers regularly exposed above 85 decibels.
Many thousands of people are exposed to loud noise at work that may be a risk to their hearing. But compliance with the Noise Regulations will allow workers' hearing to be protected.