Noise Exposure in the Workplace
Noise induced hearing loss has become the most widespread and costly occupational health hazard in New South Wales. Benbow Environmental has developed, through years of experience, the capacity to assist industries with various types of noise exposure in workplace environments, including:
- Personalised monitor of worker exposure to noise using dosimeters with data loggers that analyse impact noise and provide a minute-by-minute time history of noise levels;
- Design noise control equipment;
- Recommend the most appropriate hearing protection;
- Conduct noise management programs;
- Organise large-scale hearing testing programs that have proved effective in preventing further hearing loss; and
- Event monitoring.
Our occupational dust experience extends over 20 years. In conjunction with our occupational hygiene laboratory and an independent NATA approved analytical laboratory, a wide range of emissions and particulate matters can be measured. Predominant amongst these is respirable quartz and chemical exposure by manufacturing of products.
Hygiene monitoring of a workplace focuses on the potential health side effects to the employees breathing zone and area. Industrial production lines may require gravity feeding of powders, gas emissions from heating of materials and reduction of air quality.
To assess and reduce occupational exposure requires air samples of the main ingredients of the raw materials. If a workplace is confined or without ventilation the risk of contaminant or chemical exposure to a person is increased. A regular workplace air-sampling regime of raw materials reduces workplace health complaints and eliminates odour or chemical sensitivities.
Benbow Environmental have successfully developed solutions to dust exposures for breweries, quarries, brick plants, concrete pipe plants, sand processing facilities, glass works and foundries, material recovery facilities, paper mills and timber processing sites. We maintain a large number of personal sampling pumps, anemometers, air quality indicating instruments, Dust Trak, Q Trak and other air quality devices. Our instruments use data logging to assist in the understanding of the process parameters that result in the dust exposures.
Our services in occupational hygiene include the following:
- Personal and static pump sampling
- Sampling and assessment of a range of substances including, respirable dust, inhalable dust, respirable quartz, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and stannic chloride
- Sampling of molds in office environments
- Annual sampling programmes
- Design of solutions to contaminant exposure
- Recommendations of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
Industrial and commercial occupational investigations BE have completed are:
- Chemical air assessments in manufacturing production lines for occupational compliance
- Indoor Air Quality of office environments to improve well being
- Microbiological and air quality due to minimise allergic reactions
- Film storage facility for harmful emissions, by-products of aging film
- Chemical exposure to sterilising reagents for medical equipment
Occupational Noise Surveys
Occupational noise in the workplace affects the workers by causing permanent damage to the ear. The loss of hearing impacts on an individual both at work and to their lifestyle outside of work. Industrial deafness at work prevents efficient communication with fellow employees and the ability to react to audible alarms in the event of an emergency.
Occupational noise levels are related to two noise descriptors. These are the noise equivalent level over an 8 hour period LAeq,8h, and the peak level LC,peak. The LAeq,8h corresponds to the average quantity of the noise during an 8 hour period and the LC,peak to an instantaneous maximum noise level. All occupational noise measurements should be undertaken in accordance with AS/NZS 1269 “Occupational Noise Management”.
The measured noise exposures should be assessed against the criteria outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 and Worksafe Australia Guidelines.
The criteria are the following:
- LAeq,8h < 85 dB(A)
- LCpeak < 140 dB(C)
An occupational noise history is measured to gain a representation of the noise exposure to the employee and is worn for a standard shift or part thereof. To support and confirm the observed noise levels, a survey of the production areas and machinery is completed by use of a Class 1 sound level meter.
Outcomes of completing an occupational noise assessment allow site management to:
- Understand noise levels at the site in relation to specific operations;
- Identify which area/s produce highest noise levels and which operators are most at risk;
- Validate existing occupational noise management programs;
- Identify further options to reduce noise in the workplace; and
- Understand how to protect employees from hearing loss, and avoid potential workers compensation claims.
With all Occupational Noise Surveys, a comprehensive report is provided, outlining all results and detailing, when required, the most appropriate type of hearing protection to use (over protection can be dangerous too), and practical management or engineering recommendations to reduce the noise exposure in the workplace.