Choosing quieter equipment and machinery

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Workplace Noise Management: A Guide for Employers

Employers have crucial responsibilities for maintaining equipment used in noise control at the workplace. This guide outlines the legal obligations and best practices for managing workplace noise effectively.

Maintenance of Noise-Control Equipment

It is essential to establish a robust maintenance system to ensure that noise-control equipment remains effective. Incorporate this into both routine and reactive maintenance schedules.

Importance of Regular Checks

Even minor damage or wear can significantly reduce the effectiveness of noise-control measures. Regular checks and maintenance are critical to preserving their efficiency.

Choosing the Right Equipment

When acquiring new equipment, consider the noise levels along with factors like suitability and efficiency. Comparing noise data from different machines can aid in selecting the quieter options.

Legal Obligations of Manufacturers

Manufacturers must comply with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. These regulations mandate that machinery is safe, minimises noise, and comes with accurate noise data and instructions for safe use.

Evaluating Noise Data

When reviewing a manufacturer's noise data, ensure it reflects the real-world use of the equipment in your operations. Be cautious as manufacturer data is best used for comparison; actual noise levels can vary with operational conditions.

Key Questions for Suppliers

Before finalising your equipment purchase, consider asking your supplier about:

  • Installation arrangements to maximise quiet operation.
  • The impact of different operational methods on noise output.
  • Maintenance practices to ensure the equipment does not increase in noise over time.

Regulatory Requirements for Machinery Suppliers

Under current regulations, suppliers are required to:

  • Ensure all machinery provided is safe and poses no health risks.
  • Design and construct machinery to produce minimal noise.
  • Provide accurate information about the machinery’s noise output under typical conditions.

This guide emphasises the shared responsibilities of employers and manufacturers in managing workplace noise levels and ensuring the safety and effectiveness of noise-control equipment.