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If your employees are exposed to harmful noise levels, you must take measures. You have to prevent permanent 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? Their hearing may get damaged. This can happen if the 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). You can find more information about the definitions and provisions you need to take around noise in Section 3 of the Working Conditions Decree.
Preventing hearing loss
If there is harmful noise in your company, you should try to reduce it. This can be done by:
- using different, more quiet machines
- ensuring your employee is not exposed to the 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 should provide hearing protection for your employees.
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
If your employees work in places where the sound level is higher than 85 dB(A), you have to draw up a plan of action. This plan should set out ways to reduce risks. You should also inform your employees about the dangers of loud sounds.
Your employees are entitled to a hearing test at least once every 4 years to find out if your measures suffice. The test can be carried out by a company doctor or health and safety expert. You, as an employer, bear any costs.
Employees have to wear hearing protection if they are exposed to noise over 85 dB(A) for 8 hours a day.