School operations

Noise Management

2. Understanding noise hazards and risks

There are activities undertaken in schools that may expose staff to elevated levels of noise that could pose a risk to hearing loss. This risk of hearing loss increases depending on the level of noise and length of exposure time.

There are 2 types of noise which staff may be exposed to:

  • Annoyance noise may interfere with communication or pose distraction. Annoyance noise may need to be assessed and controlled to avoid negatively effecting staff concentration and wellbeing. Annoyance noise is unlikely to pose serious risk of noise induced hearing loss.
  • Excessive noise is noise that exceeds those levels defined by Compliance code: Noise – WorkSafe VictoriaExternal Link and could pose a risk to hearing loss. This risk may increase depending on the level and length of time of exposure to the excessive noise.

This procedure focuses on identifying, assessing and addressing excessive noise hazards and risks.

Exposure to excessive noise (either a single very loud noise or by repeated exposure to various loud noises over a period of time) can cause damage to the inner ear, causing hearing loss. Once damage occurs it cannot be repaired, however, it can be prevented.

The exposure standard states that occupational noise must not exceed 85 decibels (dB) averaged (A) over an 8-hour period or a maximum (peak) noise level of 140 dB. Noise levels above these are hazardous and are deemed unsafe.

Equivalent noise exposures

Exposure level dB*

Maximum exposure time to

ensure that 85 dB(A) is not

Example of exposure level
50 Unlimited unprotected exposure Quiet office
60 Unlimited unprotected exposure Normal conversation
70 Unlimited unprotected exposure Vacuum cleaner
80 Unlimited unprotected exposure Heavy traffic
85 8 hours No example provided
88 4 hours No example provided
91 2 hours Welder/lawnmower
94 1 hour Motorcycle
97 30 minutes Sander
100 15 minutes Handheld drill
Large crowd at sporting event
103 7.5 minutes No example provided
106 3.8 minutes No example provided
109 1.9 minutes Chain saw
Shouting or barking in the ear
112 57 seconds No example provided
115 28.5 seconds No example provided
118 14.3 seconds No example provided
121 7.1 seconds Standing beside or near sirens
124 3.6 seconds No example provided
127 1.8 seconds No example provided
130 0.9 seconds Live concert
140 No safe unprotected exposure Firecrackers
150 No safe unprotected exposure No example provided
160 No safe unprotected exposure Explosives

*Decibels (dB) are measured in a logarithmic scale. Exposure recommendations to noise over 80 dB significantly decrease even though the level of dB only go up incrementally.

Includes information on annoyance noise and excessive noise

Reviewed 15 January 2023

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