What you need to do...

The law aims to reduce the risk of hearing damage caused by exposure to loud noise. Employers are required to assess the risks, take action to reduce noise exposure, provide workers with hearing protection where noise cannot be reduced by other methods, and make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded.

The law also aims to protect workers from the risks to health from exposure to vibration. The key issues are:

What you need to know...

Exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage, often without the sufferer being aware of it until it is too late. It may lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or deafness. Noise can also be a safety hazard at work, interfering with communication and making warnings harder to hear.

Employers must provide their workers with information, instruction and training and, in certain circumstances, carry out health surveillance. Employees and the self-employed also have legal duties to protect themselves against noise.

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Noise action and limit values

Noise is measured in decibels (dB). The action levels are defined in terms of daily noise exposure (the daily average) and peak noise exposure (sudden noises).

The lower exposure action values are 80 dB for daily exposure and 135 dB for peak noise.
The upper exposure action levels are 85 dB for daily exposure and 137 dB for peak noise.
The limits, which must not be exceeded, are 87 dB for daily exposure and 140 dB for peak noise.


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Controlling noise

The best way to protect against noise is to control it at source. Get noise levels assessed by a competent person and keep a record. To reduce exposure:

If any of your workers think their hearing is being affected, suggest they take medical advice and consider regular hearing checks.


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Typical noise levels

The diagram shows typical noise levels associated with agricultural work activities.

Graph showing different levels of noise from agricultural activities, for example: a shotgun is 150 dB
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