WorkSafe New Zealand reminds businesses to be proactive in controlling workplace noise

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WorkSafe New Zealand reminded workers and businesses to be proactive in their noise control system at work.

WorkSafe recently visited an engineering company which, through its health and safety committee, takes a proactive approach to ensuring the safety of its workers.

“After twenty-five years of senior management, I have witnessed many workplace incidents, and almost all were preventable,” said Metco Engineering’s Mark O’Donnell.

“At Metco, I’ve given our (health and safety) committee the power to make changes in the business. If there is a good reason, we’ll do it because for Metco health and safety is of paramount importance.”

“As a result of management and committee suggestions we recently modified our press machines to reduce noise. We ground shear angles onto the cutting faces of the press tool punches, reducing noise.

“We’ve also put vibration pads beneath most of our industrial machines. These large pads reduce the noise, and they have the added advantage of cutting out vibrations, another health risk to our staff.”

For machines that cannot be directly quietened, sound-reducing boxes were built and these have dropped the noise levels by up to 60 percent for those machines.

“Staff who took an active role in the noise reduction programme couldn’t believe they were working beside the same machines,” said Mr. O’Donnell.

“We’ve managed to drop the noise by over 30 percent on the manufacturing floor which has made the environment better for our entire business – on the shop floor and in the office.”

WorkSafe’s construction sector lead, Vadim Spice said sustained workplace noise increases stress and can lead to a drop in productivity.

“It is encouraging to see innovative products, such as acoustic mats for construction sites, starting to appear as businesses realise they need to better manage the risks from noise,” said Vadim.

“The real gains will come when businesses consider noise at the time of planning. Installing quieter machines, or designing ways to control noise at the very beginning, reduces the need to rely on workers using the less effective administrative controls, such as earmuffs.”

Hazardous noise in the workplace can make working safely difficult. By managing the risks associated with noise, businesses can protect workers from hearing loss and create a less stressful and more productive work environment.

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