Low noise machines
The Control of Noise Regulations 2005 requires that the actions taken by an employer in controlling noise risks and noise exposure should include consideration of the choice of appropriate work equipment emitting the least possible noise.
For many types of equipment there will be models designed to be less noisy. Noise-reduction programmes are only likely to be effective if they include a positive purchasing policy which makes sure you take noise into account when selecting machinery. When buying, hiring or replacing equipment the employer should ask potential suppliers for information on the noise emission of machines under the conditions of intended use, and use that information to compare machines.
Where it is found to be necessary to purchase machinery which causes workers to be exposed over the action levels of the above regulations, keeping a record of the reasons for the decision will help guide future action, eg by providing those responsible for future machine specifications with information on improvements that are needed. Part 4 of L108 has more information on the selection of quieter tools and machinery, including the use and limitations of manufacturers’ noise data.
Selection of low-noise tools and machinery through a positive purchasing and hire policy can avoid the need to apply retrofit noise control. This could be the single most cost effective, long-term measure an employer can take to reduce Noise.
A positive noise-reduction purchasing policy could involve:
- preparing a machine specification. Draw suppliers’ attention to the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (see Part 4 of L108). Introduce a company noise limit, ie a realistic low-noise emission level that the company is prepared to accept from incoming plant and equipment given the circumstances and planned machine use;
- comparing the noise information declared by the manufacturer to identify low-noise machines;
- requiring a statement from all companies who are tendering or supplying, saying if their machinery will meet the company noise limit specification;
- discussing noise issues with the supplier of the machine. This may influence the design of future low-noise machines;
- where it is necessary to purchase noisy machinery, keeping a record of the reasons for decisions made to help with the preparation of future machine specifications with information on where improvements are necessary;
- using an agreed format for the presentation of results by suppliers;
- discussing machinery needs and noise emission levels with safety or employee representative(s).