Noise is a leading contributor to injuries in the manufacturing industry.
The challenge with hearing loss is that it can be gradual. It is not like a shoulder that you hurt and you get instant feedback. It happens over years, happens over shifts.
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We also have hearing loss associated with high impact noise. Cutting, riveting, hammering those types of things really do build up into that real loud category and they can have an effect in a much shorter timeframe.
A couple of simple ways to understand whether you've got a noise issue is if you have to raise your voice and you are about a metre apart. That's a good indication that noise is at a level that could harm people's hearing.
Another way is to talk to your workers and if they are little hard of hearing or a bit of ringing in their ears then that's also a good indication that they potentially have noise issues that may harm them.
If you think you've got noise as an issue in your manufacturing plat there are some good apps out there that will act as a guide to indicate where the noise sources are.
Great way to come up with noise controls is to talk to the workers who are doing the jobs. They might suggest things like gluing not hammering. It might be welding, not riveting. It might be lowering rather than dropping.
One of the most effective ways to deal with noise is to deal with it at the noise source. So that might be silencers on exhausts. It might be reducing the capacity of a motor. It might also be a reduced fan speed.
If you haven't been able to control noises at source alternate controls may include isolation, which might be noise barriers. It might also be putting automation in for that particular piece of plant so you take the workers away.
Great way to deal with noise is distance so that means keeping the workers away from the noise sources. If you can do that with quiet places or rotating people through jobs or the fact that you actually don't have anybody in that particular area during that noisy process they are all great ways, but the best way to do is to speak to your workers and they'll be able to understand when that is actually achievable.
At times PPE is the last option. It's important for businesses to understand that they need to provide the correct PPE, make sure workers are trained in how to use that and that they are actually correctly using that PPE during their task.
Noise is an issue that affects everybody and it's important that everybody takes responsibility.