The directive on exposure to noise provides for exposure limit values and exposure action values. The exposure limit is 87 decibels and an exposure action value at 80 decibels (lower value, 85 decibels upper value).

Noise exposure limits apply.

In undertaking the risk assessment, employers must have particular regard to the

  • Level, type, duration of exposure
  • Exposure limit values and exposure action values
  • Effects on persons in particular sensitive risk groups
  • Indirect effects on health and safety from interactions between noise and warning signals
  • Manufacturer’s information
  • Alternative work equipment
  • Appropriate information

Steps must be taken to reduce risks taking account of

  • Alternative working methods
  • Choice of appropriate equipment
  • Design and layout of workplace
  • Adequate information and instruction to workers
  • Noise reduction techniques,
  • Organisation of work to reduce noise

Where the exposure cannot be prevented by other mean,  properly fitting and working hearing protectors must be provided.  Where the noise exposure matches or exceeds action values, they must be used.  Below these limits they must be made available.

Under no circumstances must the exposures limits be exceeded.  If despite measures taken exposures are exceeded the employer must take immediate steps to reduce exposure and identify the reasons.

Employees must be trained and given information regarding

  • the nature of the risks,
  • exposure limit values,
  • correct use of hearing protectors,
  • how to detect and report
  • signs
  • hearing damage,
  • safe practices

There must be consultation and participation with  employees in the assessment of risks, actions taken for elimination, and choice of individual hearing protectors

Where noise represents a health risk, the employer  must adopt provisions to ensure appropriate health surveillance.  Employees whose exposure exceeds exposure action values have the right to have their hearing checked.  Those with exposure to noise exceeds the lower values have the right to preventive audiometric training

Health records must be kept and maintained.  If an employee is found to have an identifiable  hearing damage, the doctor must assess where the damage is likely to be due to the results of exposure to noise.  In this case the worker must be informed immediately.

The employer must review the assessment and take measures to eliminate risk.  The employer must take account of occupational health care professional’s advice in reducing risk.  Employer must arrange continued health surveillance. Derogations may be granted exceptionally

Employers in the context of their general risk assessment obligations must assess and if necessary measure the level of noise which employees are exposed. The result of the assessments must be recorded and kept updated.

Particular attention is required in respect of

  • Level, type, and duration of exposure.
  • Exposure limit values and exposure action values.
  • Effects on health and safety of employees belonging to particular sensitive groups.
  • Insofar as technically achievable, any effects on employees health and safety resulting from interaction between noise and work related oto-toxic substances and between noise and vibrations.
  • Indirect effect on employees health and safety resulting from interactions between noise and.
  • Information on noise emission provided by manufacturers of equipment.
  • Provision for alternative equipment designed to reduce noise values.
  • Extension of exposure to noise beyond normal working hours under employer’s responsibility.
  • Appropriate information obtained following health surveillance.
  • Availability of hearing protectors with adequate characteristics.

Taking account of technical progress and the availability of measures to control risks arising from exposure to noise must be eliminated at source or reduced to a minimum. Risks must be reduced in accordance with principles of prevention, taking account of

  • Older working methods.
  • Appropriate work equipment.
  • Layout of workplace.
  • Adequate instruction.
  • Technical noise reduction measures.
  • Appropriate maintenance programs for equipment.
  • Organization of work to reduce noise.

Workplaces likely to be exposed to noise exceeding exposure action values must provide appropriate signs and restrict access.

If risks arising from noise cannot be prevented by other means, properly fitting hearing protectors must be made available and used.

Where the lower exposure action values are exceeded, the employer must make individual hearing protectors available. Where noise exposure matches or exceeds the upper value, individual hearing protectors must be used.

Exposure of workers must not exceed the exposure limit values under any circumstances. If for any reason, they are exceeded, the employer must take immediate action to reduce the exposure to below the exposure limit value and identify reasons why overexposure has occurred and change the protection and preventative measures in order to avoid reoccurrence.

Employees must be given information and training in respect of the nature of the risks.

  • Measures taken to reduce noise.
  • Exposure limit values.
  • Correct use of hearing protectors.
  • How to detect and report signs of hearing damage.
  • Circumstances in which employees are entitled to health surveillance.
  • Safe working practices.
  • Actions taken eliminating and reducing risks.
  • Choice of individual hearing protectors.

Workers or their representatives must be consulted in relation to the assessment of risks and identification of measures.

When risk levels exceed certain levels, appropriate health surveillance is required, health records must be kept and updated. Where as a result of surveillance, the employee is found to have an identifiable hearing damage, a doctor should assess whether the damage is likely to be as a result of exposure to noise. If this is the case, the employee must be informed by the doctor or other qualified person of the result.

  • Employer must review risk assessment.
  • Employer must review measures taken to eliminate or reduce risks.
  • Employer must take account of the advice of occupational healthcare professionals or other qualified persons in implementing measures required to eliminate or reduce the risks including the possibility of assigning to alternative work where there is no risk of further exposure.
  • Employer must arrange continued health surveillance.

Exceptionally derogations may be available due to the nature of the work.

States may provide a code of conduct in the area of music and entertainment sector.


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