RR1102 - Control of noise risk in the printing industry

Machinery used in the printing industry is inherently noisy. Noise levels in this industry have the potential to cause work-related hearing damage, if the risks are not properly assessed and managed. HSE has undertaken a study of noise levels and exposures in the printing industry, to determine noise risks and identify control measures.

The noise levels measured in this study indicate that print workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise: 93% of the study population had noise exposure estimates exceeding the lower exposure action value (LEP,d 80 dB) specified in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

However, many effective noise control features were observed, which, when fully and properly used, can be effective in reducing noise exposures.

The inherently noisy nature of the industry, even in more modern print works where quieter machinery is used, means that there is likely to be an ongoing requirement for the use of hearing protection. Although hearing protection was observed to be widely provided and used, failure to correctly fit plug-type protection was commonly observed.

Instruction handbooks, obtained for a sample of printing machinery, were found, in most cases, to contain declared noise emission information that would help the user assess and manage real-use risk.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-15