Advice for manufacturers
Minimising noise risk and reporting noise emissions
Ideally, work equipment should be designed and manufactured to avoid the risk of deafness or other hearing damage and would not interfere with normal conversation, audible alarms etc.
The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (SMR) require suppliers to minimise noise at source. Where noise is not eliminated or minimised at source, protective measures are required e.g. fit partial enclosures, screens etc to protect against remaining noise. If the noise level from a machine remains high despite applying all technical measures to control it, you must provide information so the equipment can be used without risk from noise – for example, advice on hearing protection.
A presumption of conformity is gained by following a harmonised European product safety standard. A list of harmonised standards is published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and current harmonised standards supplementing Directive 2006/42/EC Machinery.
Manufacturers have a duty to declare noise emission in the machinery instructions and any technical literature – see Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations. Declared noise emission values will usually be determined using methods provided in a standardised test code. This test code is either part of the safety standard, or contained in a separate standard referenced by the safety standard.
Manufacturers must also provide:
- information about residual noise risk – e.g. where the standard noise test code is known to give a misleadingly low indication of the noise hazard when the tool or machine is in use;
- information for safe use – e.g. how to set and operate the machine to minimise noise emission;
- if, despite all efforts to reduce noise at source and by protective measures, there remains a risk to hearing, provide information about appropriate hearing protection.
A safety standard is normally produced for a class of machine. Following the safety standard published in the OJEU usually provides a presumption of conformity with the requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.
Where noise is a hazard, you should find guidance in the safety standard on how to provide information and advice concerning noise.
The declaration values for ‘sound pressure level’ (and, if required, ‘peak sound pressure level’) should provide a reasonable guide to the noise risk that the purchaser must manage. The purchaser will estimate their daily noise exposure(s) on the basis of your declared sound pressure level at the operator position, combined with the intended pattern of use.
The sound power level you report should enable your customers to make a fair comparison of the noise emissions from your machine with other machines in the class.
Note: The sound power level for many types of outdoor equipment (lawn mowers, road breakers etc) is determined to standards other than the machinery safety standard because they must also comply with environmental legislation governing noise nuisance (see NEEEOR).
Manufacturer’s sales literature describing the performance characteristics of machinery must contain the same information on noise emissions as is contained in the instructions.