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Noise and Vibration

Policy Framework

Noise-induced hearing loss cannot be cured and worsens as noise exposure continues. The University has a duty to:

  • ensure that the noise a person is exposed to at the University does not exceed the exposure standard for noise;
  • provide audiometric testing to a person who is frequently required to use personal hearing protectors in order to protect the person from hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard.

The Hazardous Work Procedure (coming soon) provides support to Organisational Unit Heads and advice to staff for managing noise and preventing hearing loss in the workplace.

The exposure standard for noise involves two measures:

  • LAeq,8h of 85 dB(A)
  • LC,peak of 140 dB(C).

LAeq,8h of 85 dB(A) means that over an eight-hour shift a worker can’t be exposed to more than 85 decibels. Whether this is exceeded depends on the level of noise involved and how long a worker is exposed to it.

LCpeak of 140 dB(C) means a worker can’t be exposed to a noise level above 140 decibels. Peak noise levels greater than this usually occur with impact or explosive noise such as sledge-hammering or a gun shot. Any exposure above this peak can create almost instant damage to hearing.

If you have identified a noisy activity that may expose workers or others to hazardous noise, you should assess the risks by carrying out a noise assessment. A noise assessment will help you:

  • Identify which workers are at risk of hearing loss.
  • Determine what noise sources and processes are causing that risk.
  • Identify if and what kind of noise control measures could be implemented.
  • Check the effectiveness of existing control measures.

The WHS Unit has noise monitors to help identify noisy activity in the workplace. The Organisational Unit may need to organise a noise assessment with an external noise assessment professional. Please contact the WHS Unit at Health.Safety@utas.edu.au for further information.

Audiometric testing is required for a worker who is carrying out work if they are required to frequently use personal hearing protectors as a control measure for noise that exceeds the exposure standard.

Audiometric testing must be provided within 3 months of a worker starting work that exposes them to a risk of work related noise-induced hearing loss.

Starting the audiometric testing before people are exposed to hazardous noise (such as new starters or those changing jobs) provides a baseline as a reference for future audiometric test results.

Regular follow-up tests must be carried out at least every two years. These should be carried out well into the work shift so that any temporary hearing loss can be identified.

Audiometric Testing is the responsibility of the Organisational Unit to organise with an external provider and test results must be forwarded to HR to attach to the Staff member’s file.

There is evidence that workers who are exposed to vibration and noise at the same time are more likely to suffer hearing loss than workers exposed to the same level of noise alone. Exposure to both vibration and noise is also understood to increase musculoskeletal problems.

Safe Work Australia has developed a series of guidance material on:

  • How to manage risks associated with vibrating plant in the workplace
  • Measurement and assessment of workplace vibration exposures from vibrating plant.

It also provides technical information on how exposures are to be measured and calculated. Plant includes machinery, vehicles, equipment, appliances, containers, implements, tools and components or anything fitted or connected to those things.

A Risk Assessment is a simple tool to look at an activity such as a task, project or event to identify health and safety risks that are likely to pose a threat t a person's safety or impact on operations of the University and to establish appropriate risk controls to minimise harm.

The University's Risk Assessment Template (Word 1MB) provides guidance on the minimum requirements for University of Tasmania staff and students to follow when planning an activity (both on and off campus) so that work health safety risks are managed.