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Appendix 1-Hierarchy of Control for Construction Site Noise: many ‘assessments’ are clearly inadequate and have been undertaken using suspect equipment and/or methodology. In addition, often the person who undertakes the assessment may have little or no acoustical training or expertise.

1st Priority

Employers must undertake a suitable and appropriate assessment of the risk arising from noise exposure. This is generally done by means of a detailed noise assessment which is undertaken by a qualified and experienced assessor. The primary purpose of the risk assessment is to quantify the exposure levels and clarify what needs to be done to protect the health and safety of employees who are exposed to noise. Noise measurements may not always be required, however, whenever any significant risk exists, it would be difficult to justify not using site-specific measurement data.

2nd Priority

3rd Priority

• Eliminate noise and noisy equipment (e.g., use hydraulic tools in prefereence to noisy compressed air tools) • Reduce Risk at Source (e.g., fit silencers to air inlets and exhausts) • Control Exposure (e.g., use screens, minimise daily use of certain tools)

• Designate Hearing Protection Zones (mark these out clearly and post signs) • Devise Safe Systems of work (explain and enforce these) • Maintain equipment (replace blades, bits and accessories as required) • Training Information and Instruction (make sure everyone understands) • Supervision (ensure systems are working)

• Select appropriate PPE (select PPE for exposure conditions and ensure effective use of ear muffs and ear plugs) • Provide Health Surveillance (regular audiometric testing)

for the work. In some companies, these requirements are sometimes addressed in a Hearing Conservation Programme (refer to HCP graphic). Given that the assessor’s findings will be the foundation on which the company’s

as individuals with responsibility for risk assessment and/or environmental noise management can benefit from training which enables them to interpret and evaluate environmental and workplace assessments. These courses should also enable participants to provide guidance and assistance in risk management as most companies will continue to have residual risk long after the assessment work has been completed. The Institute of Acoustics (IOA) Certificate of Competence in Workplace and Environmental Noise Measurement have been specifically developed to provide participants with the necessary training to ensure that they can competently perform their duties. Refresher courses are also seen as an important element of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Unfortunately some individuals are convinced that an ability to press the correct buttons on a sound level meter entitles them to undertake assessments. With such a cavalier attitude, however, one should be wary of the advice that such individuals provide.

Employers must undertake a suitable and appropriate assessment of the risk arising from noise exposure. This does not mean that every assessment will necessarily require a huge volume of measurement data. Generally a combination of reliable measurement and good interpretation provides the real benefit. Unfortunately some ‘assessments’ consist of a series of noise measurements and provide no interpretation and guidance. The findings of the risk assessment must be adequately reported and an action plan should be developed to identify and document the steps taken to meet the requirements of the law - e.g., what has been already done, what needs to be done, an indicative timetable and clear identification of the individual/s responsible

controls are built, it is important that they are RELIABLE. It is up to the employer to take reasonable steps to satisfy himself or herself that the assessment meets all necessary legal requirements, even if the assessment is carried out by someone outside the company (such as a consultant). Unfortunately many companies learn that their risk assessments are inadequate or their consultants were not ever ‘really’ competent when it is too late, for example, when dealing with a claim for occupational hearing loss. In fact a useful test for a company to apply would be to question whether their assessments or assessor would stand up to scrutiny by an expert in the field (or to a cross examination in a court of law). Like many aspects of safety management, in order to avoid long term problems and pitfalls, it is imperative that noise risk assessment is undertaken by competent persons and some companies will closely examine an assessor’s credentials and keep records of same. Noise assessors as well

The author: Dermot Moloney MSc, BSc, MIOA, MIEnvSc, MInstSCE, CSci (Senior Acoustical Consultant) is a Chartered Scientist. He holds a number of postgraduate qualifications including MSc in Applied Acoustics, Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control and he is a Certified Competent Person in Noise & Vibration (British Occupational Hygiene Society). Dermot has held a number of consultancy positions and he is currently the Director of Moloney & Associates, an independent, Cork-based Acoustic & Environmental Consultancy. Details of the workplace and environmental noise assessment training options available through Moloney & Associates, may be had from their website www.env.ie

© Moloney & Associates, Acoustic & Environmental Consultants 2011.

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