Noise pollution can be a big problem in the workplace. It’s distracting for people who have to put up with noise coming from various activities and processes. And it can also affect both the physical and mental health of people engaging in loud activities and those who have to overhear them.
Noise pollution in the workplace can be controlled so that it doesn’t have such a strong effect on employees and it can be prevented from affecting customers or other members of the public. Finding the best ways to control and reduce noise pollution requires you to analyse where the noise is coming from and what changes can be made to mitigate it. Here are some of the methods you can use to control noise pollution and create a safer work environment.
Change processes and equipment
Making changes to certain processes or the equipment that is used to carry them out is one of the ways you can control noise pollution in the workplace. You should spend time working out whether it’s possible to carry out some types of work in a quieter way, whether it’s by using different equipment, relocating, or changing the methods used to get the task completed. When purchasing or hiring equipment, having a policy in place that low-noise equipment should be prioritised is a good idea. It will help your business to reduce noise pollution over time.
Create barriers between spaces
Open spaces can be the cause of a lot of noise pollution in various environments, from offices to warehouses and factories. Noise will carry from where the work is taking place and affect people in other areas who aren’t involved with the noisy activity. This could mean anything from employees having to put up with the noise from machinery to having to overhear other people’s conversations when they are trying to work quietly. Putting barriers in place, ranging from walls and dividers to PVC strip curtains will help to address this problem. The barriers will prevent the noise from travelling, keeping it more contained to one area so it doesn’t leak into other workspaces.
Use engineering measures to control noise
You can make a change to certain processes with engineering controls that help to reduce noise. For example, any impact of metal on metal can be extremely noisy but this can be addressed in a number of ways, such as using rubber as a barrier between metals or reducing drop heights. Vibration levels can be reduced on certain equipment and machinery by adding material that lowers vibration. Silencers can be used for certain types of equipment, such as air exhausts.
Alter the workplace layout
The layout of the workplace can be altered to help improve noise pollution and enable people to work without disruption. This could include moving the location of certain activities or dividing an open workspace so that there are separate rooms or zones. You can create quieter areas and areas where noise is expected. This could mean keeping warehouse machinery away from picking and packing areas but it could also mean having quiet stations in an office, where people can work without disruption from others. You can also alter the environment by using materials that absorb sound for better soundproofing.
Schedule noisy activities
Many noisy activities can’t be avoided, but it can be helpful to limit the times they are taking place. This allows for periods when there is less noise, giving people a break and allowing other work to be completed. It might be possible for certain machines to run in the morning but not later in the day. Alternatively, it’s possible to limit the amount of time that people spend in noisy areas. You can make sure that people aren’t required to be in these areas for too long each time so that they get regular breaks.
Provide hearing protection
It’s also important to ensure that certain workers have the correct hearing protection when they are working. Hearing protection reduces the noise they can hear and it also helps to protect their ears to prevent hearing loss. Before using hearing protection, it’s important to use technical and organisational means to control use. Hearing protection should be used in addition to these measures, not as an alternative. Employers need to be aware of the circumstances in which they are required to provide hearing protection and make sure their employees are using it.
Reduce noise pollution in your workplace and you can make the environment a lot healthier for everyone who uses it.