How do I assess the risks?
How do I get started?
If you answered 'yes' to any of the questions in the section 'Do you have a noise problem?', you will need to assess the risks to decide whether any further action is needed, and plan how you will do it.
The aim of the risk assessment is to help you decide what you need to do to ensure the health and safety of your employees who are exposed to noise. It is more than just taking measurements of noise - sometimes measurements may not even be necessary.
Your risk assessment should:
- Identify where there may be a risk from noise and who is likely to be affected;
- Contain a reliable estimate of your employees' exposures, and compare the exposure with the exposure action values and limit values;
- Identify what you need to do to comply with the law, eg whether noise-control measures or hearing protection are needed, and, if so, where and what type; and
- Identify any employees who need to be provided with health surveillance and whether any are at particular risk.
Estimating employees' exposure
It is essential that you can show that your estimate of employees' exposure is representative of the work that they do. It needs to take account of:
- the work they do or are likely to do;
- the ways in which they do the work; and
- how it might vary from one day to the next.
Your estimate must be based on reliable information, eg measurements in your own workplace, information from other workplaces similar to yours, or data from suppliers of machinery.
You must record the findings of your risk assessment. You need to record in an action plan anything you identify as being necessary to comply with the law, setting out what you have done and what you are going to do, with a timetable and saying who will be responsible for the work.
Review your risk assessment if circumstances in your workplace change and affect noise exposures. Also review it regularly to make sure that you continue to do all that is reasonably practicable to control the noise risks. Even if it appears that nothing has changed, you should not leave it for more than about two years without checking whether a review is needed.
You need to make sure that your risk assessment:
- has been drawn up by someone who is competent to carry out the task; and
- is based on advice and information from people who are competent to provide it.
You, or people within your company, may well be competent in some or all areas. You may, however, choose or need to go to external consultants.