Noise in waste management and recycling 

Without adequate control, employees may be exposed to high levels of noise during a number of different waste and recycling activities (eg glass collection and in materials recovery facilities) and risk damage to their hearing.

Noise in glass collection

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 stepped hierarchy states that:

  • hazardous noise should be eliminated wherever possible;
  • exposure to noise at source should be controlled using engineering means so far as is reasonably practicable (such as enclosure and the use of noise-dampening materials);
  • adequate protective equipment (such as ear defenders) should be provided.

HSE, manufacturers and users have been working to develop technical solutions to the problem of noise in glass collection. In many cases, noise-dampening materials have been capable of reducing noise emissions by up to a half (around 3 dB). However, they do not reduce noise emissions to levels where hearing will not be damaged, without additional action being taken.

Noise in materials recovery facilities (MRFs)

Most MRFs have processes which emit high noise levels exceeding the 80dB(A) and 85dB(A) levels at which employers are required to take action under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

The following guidance identifies the areas where the equipment in a MRF is likely to expose employees to excessive noise levels, the likely exposure and suggested methods of controlling the risk.

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Updated 2021-07-01