Workplace Noise Regulations

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Do you know what legislation and Australian Workplace Audiometric testing Standards apply to your business?

Please see below for information relating to Occupation Noise Law in Australia. All the information is taken directly from the Standards, Act’s and work noise regulations mentioned.

The majority of fines for breaching the requirements in the Australian Noise Standards Act’s and Regulations below are $6,000 for a natural person (Director or Owner) and $30,000 for the business per charge. A business (and it’s owners) often have multiple charges laid against them should they be found non-compliant.


The Australian Standard on Noise Management

AS/NZ 1269.1 Occupational Noise Management states;

An assessment should be carried out at least every 5 years to monitor changes in noise exposure due to various factors, eg: deterioration of equipment, changes in work procedures, introduction of new production processes and effectiveness of engineering noise controls.

An assessment of only part of the workplace shall be carried out, eg: in areas where new plant has been introduced, where work practices have changed, and in new vehicles which may have been purchased.

Executive Summary; To ensure compliance you must have your workplace noise assessed every 5 years at a minimum! If during the noise assessment, it is identified that employees in your organisation are exposed to hazardous level of noise the employer is obliged to follow the hierarchy of control to address the noise generated within its operations. Process elimination, equipment modification, retrofitting and rostering changes are all viable controls which should be explored before the issue of hearing protection. However, if Personal Protective equipment (eg: Ear muffs, Ear Plugs) are deemed to be the appropriate control then Audiometric testing aka Hearing tests apply.


Victorian Specific Law
For employers and business owners

The OHS Regulations 2017 state;

3.2.32- Determination of exposure to noise

(1) An employer must determine an employee’s exposure to noise at the workplace in accordance with this regulation if there is uncertainty (based on reasonable grounds) as to whether the noise exposure standard is or may be exceeded

(2) In considering whether a noise exposure standard is or may be exceeded, an employer must not take into account the effect of any hearing protectors the employee may be using.

(3) A determination under subregulation (1)—

  1. must take into account—must not take into account the effect of any hearing protectors the employee may be using.
    1. The level of noise to which the employee is exposed; and
    2. The duration of the exposure; and
    3. Plant and other sources of noise at the workplace; and
    4. Systems of work at the workplace; and
    5. Any other relevant factors; and
  2. must not take into account the effect of any hearing protectors the employee may be using.

Executive Summary; As an employer you must identify, assess and control the noise risk to your employees and others. Our noise assessment services will provide you with the information you need to satisfy this legislative requirement. Our services also include an ‘Action Plan’ for you to ensure legal compliance. See the details of our service and the other exclusive benefits we offer our customers on our Employer Services page.

3.2.37- Audiometric tests 

If an employer is required under regulation 34(5) to provide hearing protectors to an employee, the employer must provide for audiometric testing for that employee—

  1. within 3 months after the employee commences the work in relation to which the hearing protectors are required; and
  2. at any time when reasonably requested to do so by the health and safety representative of the designated work group of which the employee is a member; and
  3. at least every 2 years.

3.2.38- Audiological examinations

If the results of 2 or more audiometric tests of an employee under regulation 37 during a period not exceeding 2 years indicate a reduction in hearing levels equal to or greater than 15 decibels at 3000 hertz, 4000 hertz or 6000 hertz, the employer must provide for the employee to undergo an audiological examination as soon as reasonably possible.

For Manufacturers and suppliers of plant and equipment

The OHS Regulations 2017 state;

3.2.30- Manufacturers

(2) If plant, when used at a workplace for the purpose for which it is manufactured, may cause an employee’s exposure to noise to exceed the noise exposure standard, the manufacturer of the plant must—

  1. Determine its sound power level; and
  2. when supplying the plant to another person, provide with the plant a record that states the sound power level of the plant

3.2.31- Suppliers

(1) A supplier of plant must provide with the plant any record received from the person from whom the plant was acquired that states the sound power level of the plant.

(2)  A supplier of plant must take any action that is reasonably necessary in the circumstances to obtain a record that states the sound power level of the plant from the person from whom the plant was acquired.

Executive Summary; If you manufacture or supply (sell or import) plant or equipment you have a duty to provide information regarding the noise output levels of your product. We can assist you in meeting this obligation, see our Manufacturers and Suppliers Services page for more information.

Click HERE to see the full OHS Act.

Queensland Specific Law
For employers and business owners

The  Managing Noise and Preventing Hearing Loss at Work – Code of Practice 2011;

4.1 When should a risk assessment be conducted?

If you have identified any noisy activities that may expose your workers or other people at your workplace to hazardous noise then, unless you can reduce the exposures to below the standard immediately, 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.

4.2 Who can do a noise assessment?

A noise assessment should be done by a competent person in accordance with the procedures in AS/NZS 1269.1 Measurement and assessment of noise immission and exposure. The more complex the situation, the more knowledgeable and experienced the person needs to be.
A competent person is one who has accurately calibrated noise measuring instruments and, through training and experience:
    •   understands what is required by the Regulations for noise
    •   knows how to check the performance of the instruments
    •   knows how to take the measurements properly
    •   can interpret the results of the noise measurements.

5.7 Audiometric testing

The hearing of workers exposed to noise can be monitored through regular audiometric examinations. Audiometric testing is an important part of managing the risks from noise exposure at the workplace. 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. To be effective, initial audiometric testing should be provided within three months of the worker commencing work with regular follow-up tests at least every two years. These should be undertaken well into the work shift so that any temporary hearing loss can be picked up.

More frequent audiometric testing (e.g. every six months) may be needed if exposures are at a high LAeq,8h, which is equal or greater than 100 dB(A).

Click HERE to see the full Code of Practice.


New South Wales Specific Law
For employers and business owners
The WHS Regulations 2011 state;

4.1.57  Managing risk of hearing loss from noise 

(2)  A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that the noise that a worker is exposed to at the workplace does not exceed the exposure standard for noise.

4.1.58  Managing risk of hearing loss from noise 

(1)  This clause applies in relation to a worker who is frequently required by the person conducting the business or undertaking to use personal protective equipment to protect the worker from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise.

(2)  The person conducting the business or undertaking who provides the personal protective equipment as a control measure must provide audiometric testing for the worker:

(a)  within 3 months of the worker commencing the work, and

(b)  in any event, at least every 2 years.

Click HERE to see the full Code of Practice.


South Australia Specific Law
For employers and business owners
The WHS Regulations 2012 state;

Chapter 4 – Part 1

57 – Managing risk of hearing loss from noise 

(2)  A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that the noise that a worker is exposed to at the workplace does not exceed the exposure standard for noise.

58 – Audiometric testing

(1)  This regulation applies in relation to a worker who is frequently required by the person conducting the business or undertaking to use personal protective equipment to protect the worker from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise.

(2)  The person conducting the business or undertaking who provides the personal protective equipment as a control measure must provide audiometric testing for the worker—

                  (a) within 3 months of the worker commencing the work; and

                  (b) in any event, at least every 2 years.

Click HERE to see the full Code of Practice.


Western Australia Specific Law
For employers and business owners
Managing Noise at Workplaces – Code of Practice 

4.4 – Noise Assessment

All workplaces where it is identified that people may be exposed to noise exceeding the exposure standard for noise should be assessed, unless the exposure to noise can be reduced below the standard immediately. Workplaces where exposure is marginally below the standard should be re-assessed whenever any changes are made that may increase exposure.

9 – Audiometric Testing

9.1  The hearing of employees exposed to noise can be monitored through regular audiometric examinations. Such testing in itself is not a preventive mechanism, and is only relevant in the context of a comprehensive noise management program. Any changes in hearing levels over time revealed by audiometry should be thoroughly investigated as to their cause(s) and the need for corrective action.

9.2  An audiometric testing program should be available to any employee likely to be regularly exposed to excessive noise.

9.3  All testing should be undertaken by appropriately trained and experienced persons, selected by management in consultation with employees and safety and health representative(s).

Click HERE to see the full Code of Practice.


Tasmania Specific Law
For employers and business owners
The WHS Regulations 2012 state;

57.   Managing risk of hearing loss from noise
(2)  A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that the noise that a worker is exposed to at the workplace does not exceed the exposure standard for noise.

58.   Audiometric testing

(1)  This regulation applies in relation to a worker who is frequently required by the person conducting the business or undertaking to use personal protective equipment to protect the worker from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise.

(2)  The person conducting the business or undertaking who provides the personal protective equipment as a control measure must provide audiometric testing for the worker –

                (a) within 3 months of the worker commencing the work; and

                (b) in any event, at least every 2 years.

Click HERE to see the full regulations.


Northern Territory Specific Law
For employers and business owners
The WHS (National Uniform Legislation) Regulations 2017 state;

4.1.57 Managing risk of hearing loss from noise (2) A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that the noise that a worker is exposed to at the workplace does not exceed the exposure standard for noise.

 

4.1.58 Audiometric testing 

(1) This regulation applies in relation to a worker who is frequently required by the person conducting the business or undertaking to use personal protective equipment to protect the worker from the risk of hearing loss associated with noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise.

(2) The person conducting the business or undertaking who provides the personal protective equipment as a control measure must provide audiometric testing for the worker:

(a)  within 3 months of the worker commencing the work; and

(b)  in any event, at least every 2 years.

Click HERE to see the full regulations.