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OBUHSN-20 Issue 6 July 2019
This Health and Safety Notice should be read and understood by all employees and students of Oxford Brookes University who work or study in environments where noise levels could expose staff and students to a risk of hearing damage. Where appropriate, it must also be brought to the attention of contractor's staff or visitors working at the University.
The Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force in April 2006. These Regulations apply to all workplaces. At Oxford Brookes University, Deans of Faculties and Directors of Directorates are required to arrange for assessments of the noise levels where there is reason to believe that noisy activities may be exposing staff, students and others to a risk of hearing damage and to take appropriate preventive action where necessary.
The Regulations define two exposure action levels:
The University is required to make adequate arrangements for the assessment of noise exposure where this is likely to be at or above the lower action level, so that all staff working in the areas concerned can be adequately informed of the steps that can or must be taken to protect their hearing.
Where daily noise exposure is likely to be at or above the upper action level the University is required to ensure that exposure is reduced to the lowest level practicable other than by the provision of personal ear protectors.
A noise assessment will identify the daily noise exposure of anyone who may be at risk of hearing damage and will provide information that can be used to implement control measures.
Irrespective of action levels the University is required to reduce the risk of damage to hearing of its staff and students from exposure to noise to the lowest level reasonably practicable. There are many ways of reducing workplace noise levels and no single technique will be suitable for every situation. These are discussed in order of priority below.
The noise produced by work or study activities being undertaken in some areas of the University may create a significant risk of hearing damage to anyone within that area. In these circumstances the Dean of Faculty/Director of Directorate or their nominee will designate the area as an ear protection zone. Workplaces designated, as ear protection zones must be marked by the use of the appropriate safety signs. Admission to the area must be restricted to those persons wearing approved hearing protection.
In ear protection zones, all personnel must wear the hearing protection provided or required. University employees who regularly work in noise protection zones will be issued with appropriate personal hearing protection. Personnel visiting noise protection areas will be loaned suitable hearing protection for the duration of their visit. Appropriate safety signs must be posted at the entrance to those areas and a stock of hearing protectors must be kept by the member of staff in charge of the area for issue to students or visitors.
Where operations requiring hearing protection are being carried out on a temporary or intermittent basis, temporary ear protection zones will be designated and appropriate signs displayed for the period of the work.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations members of staff working in areas identified by the noise assessments as being potentially damaging to hearing must receive health surveillance by means of audiometry. Deans of Faculties/Directors of Directorates must identify such members of staff to Occupational Health and must allow them time away from work to attend for this purpose.
Information and training must be provided for staff working in noisy areas and should include details on noise levels and the damage to their hearing exposure to that noise could cause, what steps staff can take to minimise the risk, how to obtain ear defenders and the requirement for health surveillance. A noise awareness training can be arranged by contacting a member of the Safety Team.