This policy outlines the health, safety and wellbeing requirements relating to the prevention and management of excessive noise in schools.
- Reasonable steps must be taken to prevent or minimise exposure to hazardous noise that can cause damage to hearing.
- Common examples of noise hazards in schools include musical instruments and school productions, woodwork, metalwork, and gardening and maintenance equipment.
- The explains how to identify excessive noise and includes steps schools can take to manage the associated risks.
- New and complex noise hazards must be included in the school’s OHS risk register.
- The can provide free advice in relation to managing exposure to hazardous noise.
Noise induced hearing loss from exposure to noise at hazardous levels can accumulate over time. Once hearing loss has occurred it is irreversible. Reasonable steps must be taken to prevent or minimise exposure to hazardous noise that can cause damage to hearing.
Roles and responsibilities in identifying and managing excessive noise exposure
Department roles and responsibilities
The department must maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe and healthy working environment for employees that is without risk.
Principal and/or delegate roles and responsibilities
The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the health and safety representative (HSR) and/or deputy health and safety representative (DHSR) if elected, and relevant school staff, must identify and manage excessive noise to prevent noise induced hearing loss in school staff.
School staff roles and responsibilities
School staff must take reasonable care for their health and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions while at work, including safe use of equipment, using personal protective equipment (PPE) and reporting noise hazards.
Safety is a shared responsibility and everyone, including students, has a role to play.
Key requirements for schools to identify and manage excessive noise exposure
- incorporate noise identification and management into an ongoing approach that promotes health, safety and wellbeing
- identify and assess the risks relating to new or complex noise hazards using an and document findings in the school’s OHS risk register
- consult with school staff and HSRs to identify and manage workplace noise risks
- investigate any reports of excessive noise or hearing loss when they occur
- review and maintain records of any assessments, hearing test or noise monitoring that occurs
- ensure high-risk school staff receive audiometric testing to monitor hearing health
- display hearing protection signs and labels where required
- provide hearing protection equipment (HPE) such as ear plugs or earmuffs and training on the appropriate use of HPE.
Department supports for schools
Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and school staff to be safe and well, including access to the who can provide free advice in relation to managing exposure to hazardous noise. The OHS Advisory Service can also be contacted to help schools organise audiometric testing and audiological examinations for staff, when required.
Using to report and manage hazards identified allows OHS support officers to provide assistance and advice. Guidance for reporting and managing hazards on eduSafe Plus is located in the on the knowledge base in eduSafe Plus. For more general information on OHS risk management, refer to the .
Also referred to as ‘nuisance noise’ is noise that is below the noise exposure standard and is unlikely to pose a risk to hearing. Annoyance noise may interfere with communication, annoy or distract people, for example, photocopiers or telephone conversations.
If hearing loss is identified during routine audiometric testing an audiological exam is conducted. It is a series of tests used to determine the type and degree of hearing loss.
A routine hearing test that measures the range and sensitivity of a person's sense of hearing by means of a specialised electro-acoustic instrument (audiometer).
Sound is measured in units called decibels. The higher the decibel level, the louder the noise.
Exposure to excessive noise over a long period of time will damage a person’s hearing. The noise exposure standard outlines the maximum acceptable exposure levels for noise in the workplace.
Regulations in Victoria limit exposure to 85 dB averaged over 8 hours. Exposure to noise levels over this will lead to permanent damage and are considered hazardous. To determine if noise is at a hazardous level, workplace monitoring can be undertaken.
Hearing protection equipment (HPE)
Hearing protectors (also called hearing protection equipment (HPE)) are devices that can be worn in or over the ear to prevent noise induced hearing loss.
Noise exposure standard
The noise exposure standard outlines the maximum acceptable exposure levels for occupational noise in the workplace. The exposure standard states that occupational noise must not exceed 85 dB averaged over an 8-hour period or a maximum (peak) noise level (C) of 140 dB(C). Noise levels above these are hazardous and are deemed unsafe.
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL)
A permanent hearing disorder typically caused by exposure to excessive noise over a prolonged period.
Reviewed 15 January 2023