A noise hazard is an unwanted sound that may damage a person's hearing. As a guide, if it is necessary to raise your voice to have a conversation with someone face-to-face, you probably have a noise problem in your workplace.
Excessive noise can be generated within a business by plant and machinery, tools, compressed air and steam processes, as well as externally, from traffic or industrial premises close by.
Repeated exposure to excessive noise levels results in noise-induced hearing loss. The hair cells of the cochlea that generate nerve impulses will be damaged or destroyed when their supporting structures are overworked. Only a few hair cells may be lost at a time, but with repeated exposure over days, months and years, the cumulative effect can be substantial.
This type of hearing loss is permanent -when the microscopic structures are damaged, there is no way to repair them to restore reasonable hearing.
Noise Management and Protection
The National Standard for Occupational Noise specifies the national standard for exposure to noise in the workplace. The National code of practice for noise management and protection of hearing at work provides practical guidance on how this standard can be achieved. These documents apply to:
- all workplaces where there is a potential for exposure to excessive noise
- the plant and processes in those workplaces
- all persons in those workplaces.
If you want to read these documents for yourself, click in the related websites to go to the website of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC).