School operations

Noise Management

3. Identifying and assessing noise hazards and risks

The principal and/or their delegate, in consultation with the health and safety representative and affected school staff, must:

  • identify which tasks, equipment or processes produce excessive noise
  • identify staff that are at risk of exposure.

Noise hazards may be identified when:

  • talking to staff about how work is carried out and asking about any problems they may have
  • undertaking regular observations of the workplace
  • observing plant and equipment when in use
  • reading and following manufacturer’s instructions for the use of plant or equipment – many older models of equipment have instruction booklets online if originals have been lost.

Noise can be a problem in a school if, for example, any of the following occurs:

  • staff have to raise their voice to communicate at a distance of one metre apart
  • staff have a temporary reduction in hearing or ringing in the ears after leaving work for the day.

Common activities and environments that may expose staff to excessive noise levels may include, but are not limited to:

  • technology rooms where power tools and other workshop equipment are used (for example, band saws)
  • hospitality rooms where blenders or cooking equipment may be used
  • music rooms – playing a music instrument, the use of amplifiers or a large orchestra
  • construction work within the school or adjacent to the school, such as demolition, excavation, use of power tools
  • maintenance work, such as the use of a sander, drill or other power tools
  • gardening activities, such as the use of a leaf blower, lawn mower or whipper snipper.

In all instances, the principal and/or their delegate must record the identified excessive noise in the ‘Hazard Description’ column of the OHS risk register (XLSX)External Link , assess the level of risk, and document risk controls.

Assessing the risks using workplace monitoring

The principal and/or their delegate in consultation with the health and safety representative and affected school staff, must identify and assess the risks relating to new or complex noise hazards using an OHS risk assessment (DOCX)External Link . In some instance this may provide enough information regarding the level and duration of exposure to noise or the impact to a person's hearing.

To accurately determine the level of risk, the principal and/or their delegate may need to consider specific workplace monitoring and quantitative noise assessment by engaging the services of a qualified occupational hygienist with support from the OHS Advisory Service. Specific monitoring data will provide results on the actual level of exposure and the effectiveness of current controls, which can be used as a representative sample to compare against legislated maximum exposure standards.

To determine if monitoring is required, the principal and/or their delegate must ensure that consideration is given to:

  • the level (loudness) of the noise
  • how many people are exposed and their length of exposure to the noise
  • how often the situation occurs.

Noise monitoring and exposure limit findings

Once the monitoring is completed, the reported findings must be provided to the principal and/or their delegate. The principal and/or their delegate is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the recommendations in the report to reduce the risk of exposure to school staff and document the controls in the schools OHS risk register (XLSX)External Link .

The principal and/or their delegate can contact the OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715 if they require assistance to interpret the findings or recommendations in reports provided.

Includes information on how to identify and assess noise hazards and risks

Reviewed 17 June 2024

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