How do I reduce noise?

There are many ways of reducing noise and noise exposure - often a combination of methods works best. First think about how to remove the loud noise altogether. If that is not possible, do all you can to control the noise at source, consider redesigning the workplace and reorganising working patterns. Take measures to protect individual workers if you need to. Consider the following:

  • Use a different, quieter process or quieter equipment, eg:
    • Can you do the work in some other quieter way?
    • Can you replace whatever is causing the noise with something that is less noisy?
    • Introduce a low-noise purchasing policy for machinery and equipment.
  • Introduce engineering controls:
    • Avoid metal-on-metal impacts, eg line chutes with abrasion-resistant rubber, and reduce drop heights.
    • Vibrating machine panels can be a source of noise - add material to reduce vibration ('damping').
    • Isolate vibrating machinery or components from their surroundings, eg with antivibration mounts or flexible couplings.
    • Fit silencers to air exhausts and blowing nozzles.
  • Modify the paths by which the noise travels through the air to the people exposed, eg:
    • Erect enclosures around machines to reduce the amount of noise emitted into the workplace or environment.
    • Use barriers and screens to block the direct path of sound.
    • Position noise sources further away from workers.
  • Design and lay out the workplace for low noise emission, eg:
    • Use absorptive materials within the building to reduce reflected sound, eg open cell foam or mineral wool.
    • Keep noisy machinery and processes away from quieter areas.
    • Design the workflow to keep noisy machinery out of areas where people spend most of their time.
  • Limit the time spent in noisy areas - every halving of the time spent in a noisy area will reduce noise exposure by 3 dB.

Proper and regular maintenance of machinery and equipment is essential as it will deteriorate with age and can become noisier. Listen out for changes in noise levels - it may be time to replace worn or faulty parts.

How to choose quieter equipment and machinery?

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Updated 2021-05-24