Noise is generally defined as unwanted sound; we are all exposed to noise every day at home, at work and in traffic. Uncontrolled exposure to noise will lead to health problem ex. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Noise exposure limit depends in the duration and the noise level.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a major health risk from Exploration and Production activities. Rigs, hoists and production facilities all have equipment which generate noise capable of causing damage to the hearing mechanism. Those at greatest risk are workers on the rigs/hoists and maintenance activities where workers fail to adopt simple controls such as wearing plugs or defenders. The worst offenders are those who operate noisy machinery, providing hearing protection for themselves, but nothing for others working in the area. All workers should be asking themselves……Am I at risk of damaging my hearing?
Specific activities such as rock breaking, jack hammering, grinding, hammering, drilling all produce elevated noise and some activities may produce peak noise levels greater than 140 dB(C). Noise greater than 135 dB(C) is sufficient to cause instantaneous damage to the unprotected ear. It is for this reason that all noisy tasks and equipment must be identified, assessed and controlled. Conducting a HRA is an excellent method to identify, assess & control noisy tasks to ensure worker protection. It also provides a written record of the controls for verification.
As a rule of thumb, if you have to raise your voice to speak to someone at arms length away, the noise level may exceed 8-hour exposure limit of 85 dB(A). In such cases, the noisy equipment should be surveyed and recorded in Noise Maps by the MCOH team. Currently all PDO facilities have been mapped. The surveys for each Asset can be downloaded from Livelink Drawings once you have downloaded the software.
Whilst working in noisy environments above 85 dB(A) all workers are required to wear hearing protection. The ear plug is the most commonly used and most incorrectly fitted. To demonstrate the correct fit of plugs & muffs MCOH have developed the attached slides. If you wear your plugs correctly 100% of the time in noisy environments you should attenuate the noise by the factor (NRR, SLC80) recommended by the manufacturer. Failing to wear the plugs 100% or incorrectly will significantly reduce the protection to almost ineffectual. Utilise the slides and practice to fit your plugs correctly. If will take several attempts of rolling the plugs to get it right, however you will find it easier to fit the plugs by using the correct technique. Once you have mastered how to fit your ear plugs, ensure your colleagues also fit and wear them 100% of the time, everytime.
The MCOH team can tailor and run noise management education sessions for any Asset upon request. Contact your HSE Advisor or the MCOH Team for further information or to organise training sessions for your staff.