Worker health protection in noisy machine work environments can be best achieved when the noise is controlled at the source itself. Here are some valuable tips for employers to reduce and control the noise levels to protect machine workers:
- When buying a plant or machinery, ask for the detailed noise data from the seller to make a poignant decision. Noise levels should be evaluated in locations where the workers are going to operate the machinery.
- Move noisy plant or machinery into an area where no workers or very few workers operate (such as an outbuilding or another dedicated area).
- If the noisy plant or machinery must remain within the working area, the possibility of enclosing it within sound-insulated enclosures should be considered (such as a barrier or a screen). The employer should also determine whether anti-vibration machine mountings will be needed.
- When it is not possible to create an enclosure around the machine, other engineering techniques to reduce noise should be evaluated. These may include:
- Installing acoustic screens
- Lining the panels or guards with noise-dampening materials
- Fitting a silencer to the exhaust system
- Lining the hoppers from inside with impact-absorbing materials
- Ensuring regular maintenance to minimize rattling noise and other types of sounds from wear and tear
Additional Tips for Workers
- In areas where the noise level exceeds 85dB even after noise reduction measures are implemented, the employer should require the workers to wear earmuffs or earplugs for hearing protection with the marked and designated zones.
- The length of noise exposure per worker can be reduced by executing a job rotation plan or providing “noise refuge” (such as, limiting the amount of time a machine worker spends in the noisy area, or designing the workplace in a way that it creates quieter workstations).
- Maintenance of equipment and machinery should always take the noise levels into account.
- Improved machine operating techniques should be considered to reduce noise levels.
- Wherever the noise reduction measures require compliance from the workers to be effective (such as following the approved low-noise work techniques or making the appropriate use of designated noise enclosures), employers should ensure workers are supervised for compliance.
- Workers should have the right instructions, training, and information about noise reduction measures.
Is Hearing Protection Alone Sufficient for Workers?
In noisy machine work environments, employers cannot rely only on hearing protection to safeguard the workers against excessive noise exposure. Any hearing protection devices are only useful when additional protection is required after other noise control measures have been implemented (such as selection of quieter machinery, substituting less noisy processes, eliminating noisy tasks, and removing workers from noisy areas).
Other Necessary Steps
Employers should ensure that high quality and hygienic noise protectors are provided to workers and appropriate adjustments are made along with other protective gear (such as eye protection and hard hats). The employer should also provide for machine operators to have their hearing tested periodically (such as the annual audiometry medical exam).
Watch YouTube Video: Occupational Noise – JTA Health, Safety + Noise Specialists. This video explains some of the damages occupational noise can cause in the workplace.
Machine Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a machine accident lawyer in Sacramento. A noisy work environment can be harmful to machine workers. If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace, call me for a free consultation at 916-584-9355.
For over 36 years, I have helped numerous people in the Sacramento region and throughout Northern California in their personal injury and wrongful death cases with obtaining the compensation they need and deserve.
I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates.
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