The Directive sets out the legal maximum noise levels to which workers may be exposed; it imposes a duty on employers to protect their employees’ hearing. Employers can meet their obligations either by ensuring that none of the equipment that workers use, or have around them, subjects them to noise levels above the permitted thresholds; or, if that is not feasible, by providing effective hearing protection.
Most people will be familiar with the second case and will know that workers who use, for example, pneumatic drills or machine tools must be issued with ear defenders. Less well understood is that commonly-used items of office equipment, such as the headsets that call-centre staff must wear for long periods, can also impair hearing if they are not manufactured, set up and used correctly.
TRaC operates a facility and service, unique in the UK, with the resources to ensure that the noise emitted by any product, tool or item of equipment is within the specified limits. The Directive’s limits are defined in terms of noise that actually reaches the human ear; therefore, TRaC has invested in facilities such as a standardised simulator representing the human head and torso as its model for every test. To ensure that measurements are made in precisely controlled conditions, the company’s site at Hull is equipped with an anechoic chamber; a sealed room that allows no sound in from the outside world while tests are carried out.
Employers can protect their workers’ hearing, and themselves from possible legal consequences, by ensuring that key items of equipment issued to their staff have been tested as complying with the regulations. TRaC’s testing service is built on long experience in interpreting acoustic measurements. Insisting on proper testing provides the equipment purchaser with confidence that they have carried out all due diligence in fulfilling their legal obligations to their workforce.
TRaC Global operates laboratories on a number of sites, offering a comprehensive range of testing, certification and approvals spanning a wide range of safety and performance standards.