Noise has been described as unwanted sound, which may be distracting, annoying or cause physical damage to the body (e.g. temporary or permanent hearing damage).

The damaging effects of noise are related to the ‘dose’ that the ear receives and this depends on the duration of the exposure and the noise level. Equal doses will cause the same amount of damage. Therefore short exposure to high levels of noise will cause similar damage to lower levels of noise exposure that are of longer duration. 

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations are intended to protect against risks to health and safety from exposure to noise, risk of hearing damage and other risks such as interference with the employee’s ability to hear instructions or warnings.

The policy statement describes how to manage significant exposures to noise, including:

  • exposure limits and action values
  • assessment of exposure
  • control of exposure
  • hearing protection
  • hearing protection zones
  • use and maintenance of noise control equipment
  • labelling noisy machines
  • new machinery/equipment/plant
  • health surveillance
  • information, instruction and training