If your employees are exposed to harmful noise levels, you must take measures. You have to prevent hearing damage. Employees should comply with the measures you take.
Dangerous noise levels
Do your employees work in noisy environments for longer periods of time? This may cause hearing damage (in Dutch). This can happen if noise levels are 80 dB(A) or over. To clarify, if you cannot hear a person standing 1 metre away, the environmental noise is probably over 80 dB(A). Professions with the risk of hearing damage are, for example:
- wood- and metalworkers
- construction workers
Preventing hearing loss
If there is harmful noise in your company, you should try to reduce it. You can do this by:
- using more quiet machines
- ensuring your employee is not exposed to noise for longer periods of time
- devising quieter production methods
- placing machines in noise-cancelling enclosures
- getting employees to work in sound-proof cabins.
If this does not suffice or is not possible, you have to provide hearing protection (in Dutch) for your employees. You can find more information about the definitions and provisions you need to take in Section 3. Noise of the Working Conditions Decree.
If your employees are exposed to noise of over 80 dB(A) daily, you must give them hearing protection. The following rules apply:
- Noise levels over 85 dB(A) for 8 hours: your employee has to wear protection. You should indicate where hearing protection is needed in the workplace.
- Noise levels of 83 dB(A): your employee can work without protection for 4 hours. There should be no harmful sounds in the remaining 4 hours.
- Noise levels over 87 dB(A) with hearing protection: you should immediately reduce the sound.
Action plan and information
You have to draw up an action plan, as a part of your risk inventory and evaluation (RI&E). Do your employees work in places where the sound level is higher than 85 dB(A)? Your action plan must set out ways to reduce risks of harmful noise. You must also inform your employees about the dangers of loud noises.
Your employees are entitled to have their hearing tested regularly. How often your employee gets tested depends on the daily amount of noise and on the individual employee. The test can be carried out by a health and safety expert or health and safety service. As the employer, you have to pay for the test.