The Noise Regulations
How to summarise the Noise Regs. in such a way which will make sense and provide enough information without wanting to make you stick pins in your eyes and run screaming from the computer shouting 'for the love of all things fluffy and nice please make it stop'? I will give it a go...
If you are a health and safety person anyway then firstly, commiserations on your life choices, but secondly you probably know everything else on this page anyway so feel free to peruse some of the others with more technical detail on them.
L108 - a modern classic.
At work, noise assessments are governed by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and these are detailed in a book entitled 'L108 - Controlling Noise at Work'. This book has never troubled the top of the best-seller lists but is quite handy for you to have and if you don't want to splash out some cash it is available as a free PDF download so you can put it onto your laptop, iPad, or generic Android tabled for the cheapskates, and read it at the beach while on holiday. Just do a search on the Great Google God for 'L108 Controlling Noise' and you'll find it or click the link above.
What is noise law and what is guidance?
L108 has a few different parts within it and it is useful to know which bits are law and which bits (the majority) are merely good advice. Although that is 'good advice' from Satan's Helpers at the HSE so ignore that advice at your peril.
This is how the actual Regulations look and if you read something in L108 written in italics with a clear box to the left then it's law:
Like most health and safety documents, there is then a lot of explanation clarifying what the legal bit actually means and what the employer can do to meet it. This is in normal type with 'guidance' in the left hand shaded column.
'Guidance' is the advice - if you do this you should be complying with the noise Regulation element but you are always free to go and do it your own way as well. My recommendation, play it safe and follow this guidance anyway.
This is not all though, for to have merely two sections within the book would be far too simple, so as well as Regulations and Guidance we also have 'Schedules'. These actually make up the bulk of the document and (say it quietly or it just encourages them) are pretty handy. To summarise how it all links together:
The regulation part tells you in legalese-speak what the law is. For example, it says you will do a risk assessment.
The guidance part translates that into English and tells you want you need to do to comply with the law. For example, it gives some detail on what the risk assessment should cover and when it is needed.
The Schedules give you a lot of detail in how to go about doing various parts of it. And to continue the example, one Schedule goes into a lot of detail regarding how to do a noise risk assessment, including the formulae for adding or subtracting noise levels, calculating exposures, etc.
If you want to know what a 'Schedule' looks like, this is the kind of stuff they contain...
If you are just getting someone into do the noise assessments and audiometry (the hearing testing element) then don't worry too much about the Schedules as that's what you are paying someone else to worry about. You sit back with a nice cup of tea and let them do the work. Which is a good motto for life in general really.