If noise at the workplace is a health hazard to workers, do you just give them safety ear muffs and hope for the best or do you investigate whether the noise hazard can be reduced?
A new clause (58) of the NSW Work Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (WHS Regulations) will impact businesses where workers are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the risk of hearing loss.
Clause 58 requires such businesses to provide audiometric testing for workers on a 2-yearly basis to track changes in hearing thresholds. The clause will come into effect on the 1 January 2024, when the current exemption expires.
The rationale behind this is that PPE is the ‘last line of defence’, and the weakest form of control. However, it is cheap and therefore used very commonly. In some cases, its prevalence means that employers can overlook more effective controls such as engineered barriers, maintenance and scheduling etc.
Employers who have found the provision of PPE in noisy work environments to be the most cost-effective measure may have to think again as regular audiometric testing for all affected employees can prove very costly.
If noise can be reduced to acceptable levels, i.e. does not exceed the exposure standard outlined in clause 56 of the WHS Regulations, PPE and thus audiometric testing of employees would not be necessary.
Advitech provides workplace noise surveys and can provide advice on engineering controls. Our industry-leading acoustic engineering specialists have extensive knowledge in noise and vibration. Beyond helping businesses to achieve statutory compliance, Advitech’s experience in proactive operational noise management will enable you to continue to be as productive as possible while still meeting your obligations.
With staff based in regional locations across NSW, our sector experience extends across agriculture, manufacturing, road and rail, construction, mining, residential and commercial property development and more.
Call us to chat about your particular circumstances and we’ll work with you on a cost-effective plan to look after your workers’ hearing.