How can I choose quieter equipment and machinery?

How to choose quieter equipment and machinery

Introducing a positive ‘buy quiet’ purchasing and hire policy can be the most cost-effective long-term measure you take to reduce noise at work.

Choosing quieter equipment and machinery, whether it is bought or hired, can save you the cost of introducing noise-reduction measures and providing hearing protection, health surveillance and associated training, once it is installed or in use.

What your ‘buy quiet’ policy should involve

Your ‘buy quiet’ policy should involve the following:

  • consider at an early stage how new or replacement machinery could reduce noise levels in the workplace – set a target to reduce the noise levels if possible
  • make sure you specify a realistic noise output level for all new machinery, and check that tenderers and suppliers are aware of their legal duties
  • produce a list of machinery suitable for your intended use and their suppliers

Ask the potential suppliers about the likely noise levels under the particular conditions in which you will operate the machinery, as well as under standard test conditions. If you ask the same question to all suppliers, you can compare information.

Noise output data will only ever be a guide as many factors affect the noise levels experienced by employees, but it will help you to buy quieter machines.

You should also:

  • ask for a statement from all companies who are tendering or supplying to say their machinery will meet your company noise target specification
  • only purchase or hire from suppliers who can demonstrate a low-noise design, with noise control as a standard part of the machine, not as a costly optional extra
  • check that your noise specification is met when the machinery is delivered and installed on site
  • keep a record of your decision process and reasons if noisy machinery has been purchased with information about where improvements are necessary to help prepare future machine specifications
  • ask your trade bodies to highlight noise problems to your suppliers. If you suspect the manufacturer’s noise information is poor, report this to your market surveillance authority
  • tell other employers in your industry when you find quieter machinery

You may want to include a penalty clause in your contract if guaranteed noise emission values are exceeded.

Installation and operational or maintenance training

Remember to ask your supplier for any specific requirements regarding installation and operational or maintenance training to ensure low noise exposures are achieved and sustained.

This might include:

  • installation arrangements, such as methods of mounting and location, to ensure machinery operates as quietly as possible
  • training in new operator skills for tools or machines with noise-reduction features
  • warning of machine uses that produce unusually high noise emissions
  • information about the methods to use or avoid with particular tools or machines so noise emissions are kept low
  • training in maintenance requirements to avoid unnecessary noise exposure

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Updated 2021-09-23