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Noise Management

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Occupational Health and Safety risks associated with occupational noise are adequately managed.

Summary

  • The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act (2004) (Vic) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (2017) require the Department to identify and, so far as is reasonably practicable, to eliminate or minimise risks associated with occupational noise.
  • The principal and/or their delegate are responsible for consulting with employees and Health and Safety Representative (HSR) when identifying and managing noise risks and implementing the controls needed to eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, or reduce noise risks.
  • Where excessive noise has been identified principals are to use the hierarchy of controls, display hearing protector signs and labels, offer audiometric testing and audiological examination.
  • Under the OHS Act 2004, employees while at work must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the safety of others who may be affected by their actions or omissions.
  • Central and regional offices provide a range of supports and services to assist principals and employees to be safe and well, including access to the OHS Advisory Service and local OHS regional officers who can provide free advice on managing risks related to noise.
  • The Noise Management Procedure (in the Procedure tab) must be followed, and sets out the practical step-by-step instructions for implementing this policy.
  • This Policy forms part of the Department’s OHS Management System, see OHS Management System (OHSMS) — Employee Health, Safety and Wellbeing for further information.

Details

The principal and/or their delegate must consult with Health and Safety Representatives (HSR), employees, and contractors or volunteers to identify any work practice, plant, equipment or environments where noise levels may be excessive (e.g. technology room or music room).

If excessive noise is identified, the principal in consultation with impacted employees and the HSR must ensure that noise risks are eliminated, so far as is reasonably practicable, or reduced by implementing the hierarchy of controls:

  • eliminate the source of the noise (e.g. do not use the item)
  • substituting quieter plant or processes
  • isolate the item of plant (e.g. using barriers, mufflers or enclosures)
  • engineering controls (e.g. by using noise cancelling technology where possible)
  • administrative controls (e.g. limit time of exposure to the noise)
  • provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (e.g. ear muffs)

The principal and/or their delegate must ensure:

  • if an employee is still exposed to noise that exceeds the noise exposure standard, of an average of 85 decibels (dB) averaged over an eight hour period, after implementing the controls above, hearing protectors are provided to reduce exposure to a level below the noise exposure standard
  • where hearing protection is required as a control measure:
    • early identification by signs and labelling of plant or safe work procedures, when and where the hearing protectors are to be worn
    • audiometric testing is provided for those employees within three months after the employee commences work in relation to which the hearing protection is required and every 2 years thereafter
  • where the results of two consecutive audiometric tests of an employee indicate a reduction in hearing levels equal to or greater than 15dB at 3000 Hertz (Hz), 4000 Hz or 6000 Hz, an audiological examination is provided for the employee as soon as is reasonably practicable
  • the Audiologist conducting the examination provides a report that contains the results of the examination and states whether or not the employee has suffered hearing loss that is likely to be due to exposure to noise
  • test results and examination report for relevant employees are retained indefinitely

The Department must provide audiometric testing to employees at no cost. Schools may seek reimbursement for audiometric tests by following the process in Section 5 of the Noise Management Procedure.

Definitions

Annoyance noise
Noise that is 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 e.g. photocopiers or telephone conversations.

Audiometric test
The measurement of the range and sensitivity of a person's sense of hearing by means of a specialised electro-acoustic instrument (audiometer).

Excessive noise
Exposure to excessive noise over a long period of time will damage a person’s hearing. The exposure standard states that noise 'must not exceed an eight hour noise level equivalent of 85dB(A) or peak at more than 140dB(C)'.

Noise exposure standard
The exposure standard is in two parts and states that noise must not exceed 85dB(A) averaged over an eight hour period or a maximum (peak) noise level of 140dB(C).

Department policy on managing health and safety risks associated with occupational noise in schools

Reviewed 22 February 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

OHS Advisory Service

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