Chapter 22: Physical Hazards – Noise and Vibration

Chapter 22: Physical Hazards - Noise and Vibration

Abstract

Noise and vibration are closely linked in that noise originates from a vibrating body and both noise and vibration have similar physics as they are transmitted as waves through a medium. The health impacts of noise hazards are well recognised with noise-induced hearing loss identified as a priority work-related disease for Australian workers. Although noise-related legislation focusing on reduction at source has existed for many years, provision of hearing protectors is still the predominant control strategy in many workplaces. In contrast, there is no regulation of vibration hazards in Australian workplaces and these hazards are not well recognised. While the health impacts of noise and vibration differ, the controls are similar, particularly with respect to elimination and engineering. This chapter discusses the concept of noise and vibration as hazards and their effects on individuals. It provides a basic understanding of acoustics and the factors that impact on hearing loss together with the principles of noise measurement and control. Similarly, it looks briefly at the health impacts of vibration, measurement of vibration and general controls. It concludes with an examination of the role of the generalist OHS professional in the management of noise and vibration hazards.

Keywords: noise, vibration, hearing loss, audiometry, control

First year of publication: 2012
Current Version Pending Review: 2019

Chapter 22: Physical Hazards - Noise and Vibration

Table of contents

1 Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
1.1 Definitions ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
2. Historical context ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
2.1 Occupational noise …………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
2.2 Vibration ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
3 Extent of the problem ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
3.1 Noise ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
3.2 Vibration ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
4 Understanding noise …………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
4.1 Basic acoustics ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5
4.2 Noise and its measurement …………………………………………………………………………. 6
4.3 Noise-induced hearing loss …………………………………………………………………………. 7
4.4 Audiometric testing ……………………………………………………………………………………. 7
4.5 Ototoxicity ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
4.6 Social and community noise ……………………………………………………………………….. 9
4.7 Noise ‘stress’ …………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
4.8 Acoustic shock ………………………………………………………………………………………… 10
5 Understanding vibration ………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
5.1 Nature of vibration …………………………………………………………………………………… 12
5.2 Health effects of vibration ………………………………………………………………………… 12
5.3 Measurement and evaluation of risk associated with vibration ………………………. 13
6 Legislation and standards ………………………………………………………………………………… 14
6.1 Noise ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 14
6.2 Vibration ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 15
7 Control of noise hazards ………………………………………………………………………………….. 15
7.1 Elimination or minimisation through Safe Design ……………………………………….. 16
7.2 Engineering controls ………………………………………………………………………………… 16
7.3 Administrative controls …………………………………………………………………………….. 17
7.4 Hearing protection …………………………………………………………………………………… 17
7.5 An occupational noise management program ………………………………………………. 19
8 Control of vibration hazards …………………………………………………………………………….. 20
9 Implications for OHS practice………………………………………………………………………….. 22
10 Summary ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 23
Key thinkers …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 24 References …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24

Beno Groothoff MHlthSc, GDipOHS, DipMechEng, FAIOH, COH, MAAS,
AssocMIEAust Managing Director, Environmental Directions Pty Ltd

Beno has over 40 years experience in the fields of occupational hygiene and health and environmental control, gained both in Europe and in Australia. In Brisbane he worked with the Environmental Protection Agency followed by 22 years with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. As Managing Director of Environmental Directions Pty Ltd, he has written and presented workshops and training courses on noise and vibration for a number of organisations including Brüel & Kjær and the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygiene (AIOH). He lectures in occupational noise and vibration management in the Post Graduate OHS Course at QUT and environmental noise control at the Natural Sciences Faculty at University of Western Sydney.

Peer reviewers
Jane Whitelaw MAppSci (Env Health), FAIOH, COH
Lecturer, Postgraduate OHS Program, University of Wollongong

Marion Burgess MSc(Acoustics), FAAS
Research Officer, Acoustics and Vibration Unit, University of NSW, Canberra

Gary Foster BSc(Chem), MSc(Acoustics), COH,
FAIOH Managing Director, Foster OHS Pty Ltd

Learning Outcomes: Physical hazards: Noise and vibration

The OHS Body of Knowledge takes a conceptual approach which enables it to be applied in different contexts and frameworks.

To optimise its value for education and professional development learning outcomes have been developed for each technical chapter in the Body of Knowledge.

The learning outcomes as described give an indication of what should be the capabilities of an OHS professional; it is up to those developing OHS education programs, OHS professionals planning their CPD or recruiters or employers selecting or developing people for the OHS function to consider the required breadth vs. depth .

Please read the section on using the learning outcomes before delving into the leaning outcomes of the individual chapters.

The numbers against each learning outcome refer to the chapter number of the BOK download page. No learning outcomes have been developed for the chapters considered introductory or underpinning knowledge (that is chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, .13, 14, 15.)

Find Out More About Using the OHS BOK Learning Outcomes