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Last edited 21 Feb 2017
Control of noise at work regulations 2005
In April 2006, the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force, replacing the Noise at Work Regulations 1989. The regulations were established under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and implemented European Council directive 2003/10/EC. The regulations require employers to protect their employees from levels of noise that could cause them hearing damage.
In Great Britain, over 1 million employees are exposed to noise levels at their workplace which pose a risk to their hearing. Excessive noise at work is responsible for about 170,000 people suffering from deafness, tinnitus and other ear conditions.
Construction is one of the industries with the highest noise exposure levels. Commonly-used equipment on sites that can lead to hearing loss include hammers, pneumatic impact tools, drills, chainsaws, and so on.
- Backhoe: 84-93 dB
- Bulldozer: 93-96 dB
- Concrete joint cutter: 99-102 dB
- Crane: 90-96 dB
- Earth tamper: 90-96 dB
- Earthmover: 87-94 dB
- Front-end loader: 86-94 dB
- Hammer: 87-95 dB
- Jackhammer: 102-111 dB
- Pneumatic chip hammer: 103-113 dB
- Portable saw: 88-102 dB
- Stud welder: 101 dB
 Action levels
The regulations require employers take certain steps, at specified action levels, to reduce the harmful effects of noise on hearing. These relate to the levels of exposure to noise by an employee averaged over a working day or week; and the maximum noise (peak sound pressure) in a working day. There are two main action levels for continuous noise:
Lower exposure action value:
- Daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB.
- Peak sound pressure of 135 dB.
Upper exposure action value:
This is a daily or weekly average noise exposure of 85 dB, above which the employer is required to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce noise exposure, such as engineering controls or other technical measures. If the noise cannot be controlled by these measures, hearing protection is mandatory.
- Daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB.
- Peak sound pressure of 137 dB.
Exposure limit value:
These are the levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded.
- Daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB.
- Peak sound pressure of 140 dB.
- Take action where reasonably practicable to reduce the noise exposure producing the risk.
- Ensure the legal limits are not exceeded.
- Provide hearing protection if the exposure cannot be reduced through changing machinery or other steps.
- Establish hearing protection zones.
- Ensure employees have adequate information, instruction and training on mitigating risks.
- Carry out regular health surveillance where there are risks.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Airborne sound.
- Building acoustics.
- Environmental health.
- Impact sound.
- Injuries on construction sites.
- Sound absorption.
- Sound frequency.
- Sound v noise.
- Structure-borne sound.
- What hours are construction sites allowed to operate?
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