Noise labels reporting the sound power level of machinery may show they meet required limits and noise information in the instruction book can help assess and manage the noise risk, but the information is not usually helpful unless you combine it with information about patterns of work and other noises in the workplace.
If you are exposed to risk of hearing damage you should have your hearing checked. Your employer should also provide you with information about the risk you face, instruction on how to use the chosen control measures, and training to help you play your part.
Your employer should be seeking to reduce noise risk to the lowest level reasonably practicable. When buying new machinery, they should look at low noise models rather than buying add-on noise controls such as enclosures or screens after the machine is purchased. During consultations about new machinery, you can advise on parts of the machine that you will need to access and the likely problems that retrofit noise enclosures and screens will cause you. Well-designed, low-noise machinery will not slow you down and it will make your job quieter and safer.
Your employer should provide suitable hearing protection for your job and define hearing protection zones. Manufacturers of noisy machinery should provide guidance on suitable hearing protection. Hearing protection is a last resort until risks from noise can be controlled by other means.
Hearing protection should be comfortable and protect you against any noise risk, but still allow you to hear what is going on around you, for example hear warning signals.
Several countries and groups have websites promoting low noise products The noise abatement society is promoting ‘Quiet Mark’. This is an international mark of approval encouraging worldwide companies in the development of noise reduction in the design of everyday machines and appliances.
The Blue Angel is a worldwide eco label. This considers noise emission when making awards. The French have a similar award, the Golden decibel