To Be Categorised
Health and Safety
Health and Safety
Director of Human Resources
01 April 2014
01 April 2016
01 April 2018



Document Control



Policy Manual/System

General Procedure


Health & Safety

Version No



Health & Safety

Implementation Date

April 2014

Approved By Responsible Director

Director of Human Resources

Next Review Date

April 2018

Last Review Date

April  2016


General Note

NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of Procedure statements and aims to review procedures within the timescales set out.

New procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.

Reviewed procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.

If a Procedure is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the Procedure review is complete and the new version published.


  1. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 requires employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work.   The duties in the Noise Regulations are in addition to the general duties set out in the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and other legislation made under the Act.
  2. Excessive noise levels at work can cause hearing loss which can be either temporary or permanent.   Such damage typically occurs over many years and the deterioration may not be noticed by the member of staff until it is too late.   People may also develop tinnitus (ringing, whistling, buzzing or humming in the ears), a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep.    
  3. NHS Fife recognises its duty to comply with the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005


  1. This procedure is applicable to all staff and, by agreement, independent contractors working within NHS Fife
  2. Persons or groups responsible for developing local noise related guidance such as Estates or Laundry Services, must ensure they comply with the overarching Noise Procedure (this document).  


3.1Seniorand line managers are responsible for:

  • Ensuring risk assessments of the work environment are carried out where noise is indicated as a potential hazard and that action is taken to reduce the noise exposure that produces risks
  • Ensuring the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded
  • Provision of hearing protection if the noise exposure cannot be reduced by using other methods
  • Ensuring that staff are consulted through partnership arrangements, on matters relating to their Health and Safety
  • Ensuring that all staff are aware of this procedure, understand its content and those of local and associated procedures;
  • Ensuring that all noise risk assessments are reviewed annually and before in response to any changes in procedures, equipment, location, type of personnel, legislation or other external requirements 
  • Ensuring that staff groups and individuals identified as being at risk, are given appropriate information, instruction and training
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of risk control measures relating to noise at work through an effective system of local reporting, investigating and where required recording on DATIX
  • Ensuring staff are appropriately identified via the noise risk assessment process and sent for health surveillance where there is a known risk to health

3.2       All employees are responsible for

  • Taking reasonable care of themselves and others who may be affected by their actions
  • Co-operating by following local arrangements  for safe work in a noisy environment and working in a manner which controls risk to as low a level as is reasonably practicable;
  • Reporting all incidents and unsafe conditions arising out of the work environment that did or could result in loss, injury or damage
  • Undertaking  training and education designed to meet the requirements of the procedure and
  • Attending health surveillance appointments where indicated as a requirement within the risk assessment process.



  1. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 lays down duties to assess noise levels in the workplace, and determine any risk to hearing.   There is also the requirement to eliminate noise at source where possible, or to reduce noise exposure to as low as reasonably practicable.  
  1. Excessive Noise Exposure

   As a simple guide, there will be excessive noise if:

  • Employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2m apart  or closer for at least part of the day,
  • There are noises because of impacts (e.g. hammering, impact tools and so on), or where an employee has to use noisy powered tools or machinery for over half an hour per day.


This Procedure is part of the NHS Fife system for managing risk as described in the NHS Fife Risk Register and Risk Assessment Policy.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005   requires employers to eliminate noise at source where possible or reduce noise exposure to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.   Employers must not rely on Personal Protective Equipment to control exposure to noise, but must first look to the risk assessment process to identify other controls (HSE Noise Risk Assessment Flowchart Appendix 1 and  NHS Fife Noise Risk Assessment Guidance Appendix 2).

Health Surveillance/Audiometry

Health surveillance (hearing checks) shall be provided by the OHSAS Occupational Health Department for all employees who are likely to be regularly exposed above the upper exposure action values, or at risk for any reason, e.g. they already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage (without taking the protective effects of hearing protection into account).  

Where any individual feels that their hearing is deteriorating and who works within an area where there is significant noise exposure  they must report this to their manager, in order to be referred to Occupational Health.

Health surveillance must be carried out before people are exposed to noise (i.e. for new starts or those changing posts), where the post has been identified to OHSAS as requiring audiograms, to give a baseline.   It can however, be introduced at any time for employees already exposed to noise, as identified by risk assessment.   This would be followed by a series of checks.  

Hearing Protection

Where exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values(80 – 84dB  (A weighted) inclusive)  , hearing protectors must be provided for all employees who ask for them, but the Noise Regulations do not make their use compulsory.   NHS Fife OHSAS Health & Safety advises that where exposure in an area has been found to be  between the lower and upper exposure action values, all staff must be advised of the risks and asked whether they wish hearing protection.

Where noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure action values (85dB (A weighted) and above), hearing protectors must be provided foremployees and their use enforced.

The risk assessment control measures must identify:

  • hearing protection zones, i.e. areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory, and mark them with signs if possible;
  • the employees who require training and information on how to use and care for the hearing protectors and identify how and when this will be provided;
  • how the hearing protectors will be properly used and maintained and the supervision required to ensure this
  • that the hearing protectors give enough protection - aim at least to get below 85 dB at the ear;

Guidance on the provision of hearing protection is included at Appendix 4.

Information, Instruction and Training

This must include:

  • Likely noise exposure and associated risks
  • Findings of any risk assessments and identified control measures
  • Exposure action and limit values
  • Availability and correct use of hearing protection
  • Why and how to detect first signs of hearing damage
  • The entitlement to health surveillance
  • Safe working practices to limit noise exposure


NHS Fife Personal Protective Equipment Procedure

NHS Fife Risk Register and Risk Assessment Policy

Noise at Work Procedure Equality Impact Assessment


Controlling Noise at Work, Guidance on the regulations, (HSE L108)

Stationery Office ISBN 0717661644

Noise at Work: Guidance for employers on the Control of Noise at Work Regulations HSE leaflet INDG362 www.hse.gov.uk

Hearing Protectors - Recommendations for selection, use, care and maintenance.

British Standards BS EN 458:2004





NHS Fife Noise Assessment Guidance

A Noise Risk Assessment is an identification of where there is a risk from noise and who is likely to be affected; will contain a reliable estimate of the employee’s exposure; will identify what is required to comply with law; and identify any employees who require to be provided with health surveillance.   It will also take into account:

  • The work the employees do or are likely to do
  • The ways the employees work and how this may vary from one day to the next

There are 5 stages to assessing risks to health and safety from noise exposure:

Stage 1

  • Is there a risk due to noise?
  • Is the work carried out in a noisy area?
  • Do employees use noisy powered machinery or tools?
  • Is there noise due to impacts such as hammering etc?
  • Are there areas where noise levels could interfere with warning or danger signals?
  • Do employees have to shout to be heard from 2 m away or closer?

Stage 2

  • Who might be harmed and how?
  • The employee operating the tool, and those close by
  • Temporary employees, visitors, sub contractors
  • Those with a pre-existing hearing condition, or with a family history of deafness (if known)
  • Pregnant women and young people

Stage 3                                                              

  • Evaluate the risks and develop a plan to control them
  • Assess how long the employee is regularly exposed to noise in the workplace
  • Assess the average noise level the employee is exposed to during the working day. (Noise Levels Appendix 3)   This can be done by requesting that basic noise measurements are taken by the OHSAS Safety Services, or by using published information on noise levels or information from the machinery manufacturers and suppliers.

Where noise levels are indicated as being either close to, on, or over the exposure action levels, a specialist, in depth, noise assessment will be required.   OHSAS Safety Services can advise on how best to take this forward. 


  • Where risks are identified, where appropriate, the following techniques to control exposure must be considered:
    • Changing work methods
    • Location of noisy machinery and processes
    • Planned preventative maintenance programmes
    • Acoustic barriers/enclosures, damping
    • Task rotation
    • Suitable and sufficient information, instruction and training for employees
    • Selecting machinery and plant with low noise emissions
    • Personal Protective Equipment only to be issued as a last resort, and where issued, it is preferred that this is issued on a personal basis, with adequate storage provided.


  • Develop an action plan detailing all controls indicated from risk assessment process

Stage 4

  • Record the findings.   This must include:
  • Workplaces, areas, tasks and people included in the assessment
  • Date assessment was made
  • The noise exposure level of the employees
  • The information used to determine the noise exposure
  • Any further information used to evaluate risks

Stage 5

  • Review the risk assessment:
  • Where there is reason to think that it does not reflect the current noise risk in the workplace
  • Improved ways or methods of controlling noise exposure are available
  • Where a noise control measure was implemented following a previous assessment, and it is now required to determine the impact on employees exposure
  • Health surveillance shows that employee’s hearing is being damaged
  • When control measures that could not be justified when the initial risk assessment was conducted (probably on grounds of cost) become reasonably practicable, e.g. because of changes in technology and cost.
  • The risk assessment must be reviewed as per all other risk assessments within NHS Fife, on a yearly basis if nothing has changed.


How is noise measured?

Noise is measured in decibels (dB). An 'A-weighting' sometimes written as 'dB(A)', is used to measure average noise levels, and a 'C-weighting' or 'dB(C)', to measure peak, impact or explosive noises.   A 3 dB change in noise level may just be noticed, because of the way our ears work. Yet every 3 dB doubles the noise, so what might seem like small differences in the numbers can be quite significant

What are the action levels and limit values?

The Noise Regulations require action to be taken at specific action values. These relate to:

  • The levels of exposure to noise of the employees averaged over a working day or week; and
  • The maximum noise (peak sound pressure) to which employees are exposed in a working day.

Action levels

Lower exposure action value:

  • daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB (A weighted)
  • peak sound pressure of 135 dB (C weighted)

The lower exposure action value is a daily or weekly average noise exposure level of 80 dB, at which the employer has to provide information and training.   Where exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values, hearing protectors must be provided for all employees who ask for them, but the Noise Regulations do not make their use compulsory.   NHS Fife OHSAS Health & Safety advises that where some staff have asked for hearing protection in an area that is between the lower and upper exposure action values,  all staff must be advised of the risks and asked whether they wish hearing protection.

Upper exposure action value:

  • daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB (A weighted)
  • peak sound pressure of 137 dB. (C weighted)

The upper exposure action value is set at a daily or weekly average noise exposure of 85 dB, above which the employer is required to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce noise exposure, such as engineering controls or other technical measures.   The use of hearing protection is also mandatory if the noise cannot be controlled by these measures, or while these measures are being planned or carried out

Limit Values

These are the levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded. These are called Exposure limit values:

daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB (A weighted)

  • peak sound pressure of 140 dB (C weighted)




Provision of Hearing Protection

The main types of hearing protection are:

  • Earmuffs, which completely cover the ear;
  • Earplugs, which are inserted in the ear canal; and
  • Semi-inserts (also called 'canal caps'), which cover the entrance to the ear canal.


Ear plugs and semi-inserts must never be shared.   Preferably, a set of ear muffs would be used by one individual only, and would be issued on an individual basis.   Where earmuffs are kept for the use of visitors, they must be hygienically cleaned for each new wearer, or alternatively, disposable covers can be used.   Appropriate storage must be provided for all hearing protection issued.

The results from the noise assessment and the information from hearing protection suppliers must be used to make the best choice of hearing protection. Aim to get below 85 dB at the ear, and ensure it is suitable for the employees' working environment and compatible with other protective equipment used by the employee (e.g. hard hats, dust mask, eye protection).

Wherever possible, provide employees with a suitable range of effective hearing protectors so they can choose ones that suit them. Some employees may prefer a particular type, or may not be able to use some types of hearing protection because of the risk of ear infections.  

Hearing protection must only be issued to employees:

  • where extra protection is needed above what can been achieved using noise control;
  • as a short-term measure while other methods of controlling noise are being developed.

The use of hearing protection must never be considered as an alternative to controlling noise by technical and organisational means.

If in any doubt, contact the OHSAS Health & Safety Advisors, who will provide assistance in the risk assessment process and where required, in the selection of the correct hearing protection for the staff.

List of Individuals /Groups consulted in development/review of this Policy/Procedure/Guidance Document

Name of Policy / Procedure/Guidance

Noise at Work Procedure

Name of Lead Person

Davina Clark Health & Safety Manager

Date of Final Draft

27 May 2015

List of groups or individuals have been given a draft for comment?(e.g. staff, unions,

human resources, finance dept., external stakeholders and service users)

Previous version was sent widely round for consultation. This review has no significant technical changes and is predominantly a format change from Policy to Procedure and associated guidance

List of those consulted

See above

Please indicate that the group or individual has considered the following issues:





Risk Management:



Equality Diversity Impact             

Health & Safety                             

Budgetary Consideration

Signed ………………………………….    Date 27/05/2015

Name (please print clearly) DAVINA CLARK


Pro-forma for Recording Changes made to Policies and Procedures - Please complete this form electronically


Date of Review

Policy / Procedure

Policy / Procedure Number


Noise at Work Procedure


For each section tick  (ü) No or Yes and if Yes give detail of significant change(s).

Title of Policy / Procedure

No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)


Change from Policy to Procedure


1. Function

No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)






No change / Change at review


No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)





No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)







Operational Procedure

No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)




Risk Management

No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)







6. Related Documents

No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)






No change / Change at review

No Significant Change

Yes – Detail of Change(s)













Equality and Diversity statement



Signature of Reviewer


Contact Details







NHS Fife Equality Impact Assessment


Equality Impact Assessment Guidance is available to support this process

Contact the Angela Heyes, Equality and Human Rights Lead if support is required to completed the EQIA: fife-UHB.EqualityandDiversity@nhs.net


Title of proposal, policy or service redesign

NHS Fife Noise at Work Procedure


of proposal including intended outcomes and purpose

The procedure is an integral part of NHS Fife’s approach to the safety and governance of all NHS Fife staff who may be at risk from Noise

Directorate, service area or partnership

NHS Fife Estates, Health & Safety

EQIA lead reviewer

D Clark, H&S Manager/Team Lead

Staff involved in carrying out this EQIA

D Clark, H&S Manager/Team Lead

Brain Gillespie, Head of Estates

Start date of EQIA


Policy Number



   Part 1: Checklist - Identifying Relevance to Equality

How relevant do you think the proposal will be to the following protected characteristics (See Appendix 1 for an explanation of relevance and evidence)

Protected characteristics


Equality group

Relevance of proposal to each group H-High, M-Medium, L-Low

Age (children and young people, older people)



Disability (including people with mental health difficulties)



Race (black and ethnic people incl. gypsy  travellers, refugees and migrant workers)



Sex (women and men)



Sexual orientation (lesbian, gay and bisexual)



Religion and Belief



Gender reassignment



Pregnancy and maternity



Marriage and civil partnership



Are there any other groups this proposal may affect e.g. people living in rural areas, areas of disadvantage, homeless people, people on low incomes or people involved in the criminal justice system. Expand box as appropriate.






Relevance to General Duty – Equality Act 2010

Having considered the range of evidence available, what kind of impact will the proposal have on the General Duty?  This will help to identify whether the proposal has any potential to discriminate against any of the 9 Protected Characteristics. 




No impact




Evidence for choice of impact

provide a brief explanation of evidence used and where there is insufficient evidence to determine impact

Foster good relations



Procedure will have no impact on the General Duty as it is related to ensuring the quality, safety and governance of noise and the management of noise, which are required for a safe environment for all persons within NHS Fife premises.

Advance equality of opportunity


As above

Accessibility of services including information and physical access


As above

Involvement, engagement and inclusion


As above

Range of facilities and services


As above

Having considered the relevance and nature of the impact above in relation to the Protected Characteristics please indicate in the matrix below whether a full equality impact assessment is required. 

Positive impact                                                              No impact                                         Negative impact


   High relevance


  Medium  relevance

Low relevance

EQIA not required

EQIA not required


Full EQIA required

EQIA not required

EQIA not required

Full EQIA required

EQIA not required

No EQIA required

EQIA may be required – contact the Equality and diversity Team for advice

  • All proposals which have been marked high or medium relevance above and have a negative impact must be equality impact assessed see the Equality Impact Assessment form at Part 2 and then complete the EQIA summary. 
  • If a proposal has low relevance to the 9 Protected Characteristics and the impact is positive, please complete the EQIA summary. 





Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA)Summary Form

Identified Impacts and Recommendations

Key positive impacts

Recommendations to enhance impacts

The positive impact is that noise will be eliminated at source where possible or reduce noise exposure to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

Hearing checks shall be provided by OHSAS for all employees who are likely to be regularly exposed above the upper exposure action values.

Local risk assessment will identify any potentially vulnerable employees such as those with a pre-exisitng hearing deficit to ensure that appropriate controls are put in place to reduce and eliminate harm.

Risk assessment will be carried out

Ensuring that legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded

Provision of hearing protection

Raise awareness of noise related issues to staff groups who work in the known areas where noise is a factor

Key negative impacts

Recommendations to minimise impacts



Key no impacts

Recommendations to address no impact

Procedure will have no impact on the General Duty as it is related to ensuring the management of noise which is required for a safe environment for all persons within NHS Fife premises

Any other issues arising from EQIA

There is no evidence that this procedure will be detrimental to any group.  It has positive impacts which will be of help to all employees and service users who work within an environment with noise.

What is the outcome of the EQIA? (please tick)

Outcome 1No adverse effects have been identified with this procedure


Outcome 2

Outcome 3

If Outcome 3 has been selected an EQIA should have been carried out using the Part 2 form. 

EQIA Sign Off

Lead reviewer:  Davina Clark

Designation:  Health & Safety Manager/Team Lead

Date:  27/05/15

To be completed by Equality and Diversity Team

EQIA checked by: 
Angela Heyes
Date any comments

passed to Lead contact: 


Date EQIA published: 


  • If outcomes 1 or 2 have been selected above, please send the completed Part 1 Checklist and the EQIA summary form to the Equality and Diversity Team for recording and publication


  • If outcome 3 has been selected above, please send the completed Part 1 Checklist, EQIA Full Impact assessment and the EQIA summary to the Equality and Diversity Team for publication  fife-UHB.EqualityandDiversity@nhs.net