Noise control is a combination of methods introduced to prevent individuals from being exposed to hazardous noise levels. This is especially important at the work environment, where employers should always be aware about the potential risks that may harm the employees. Different measures can be applied to the workplace depending of the hazard, for example controlling the noise source, re-designing of workplaces, or using hearing protection gears (IOSH, 2018).
Here are some statistics to give you an idea about the importance of noise control in the working environment (DOSH, 2018). Based on the reported Occupational Diseases and Poisoning 2017, there were a total of 4787 cases of Occupational Noise Related Hearing Disorders (HD) out of the total reported cases which was 6020. This is alarming indeed, where the number of HD cases had hit about 79.5% of the total cases, surpassing a lot of well-known diseases like Occupational Lung Diseases (OLD), Occupational Skin Diseases (OSD), Occupational Poisoning and more.
As such, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia (DOSH) has come up with a series of strategies to increase the awareness of the public regarding noise exposure limits and the responsibilities of employers and employees. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan (OSHMP) 2016-2020 have been released to introduce five key strategies to increase stakeholder awareness, responsibility, and commitment to OSH. They are:
- Government Leadership
- Strengthening of OSH Management
- OSH Sharing and Network
- Mainstreaming Industrial Hygiene
- International Alliance
DOSH has also published the Strategic Plan for Enforcement of Noise Exposure Regulation (2018-2020) in addition to the OSHMP. Here, they listed the details of the different aspects of measures, as shown below:
All parties are encouraged to comply with the guidelines and plans by DOSH to create a safe and healthy workplace for everyone, with the inculcation of a Preventive Culture.
Here is a quick background on the compliance of noise regulations. As shown in the Enforcement section above, employers must go through three tiers to get pass the exposure assessment and control procedures.
Legal Requirements in Malaysia
To promote noise control in the industry, DOSH has come up with a regulation since 1989, which is the Factories & Machinery (Noise Exposure) Regulations, 1989 (Lee, 1989). This regulation was made under the Factories & Machinery Act, 1967, and came into force officially on the 1st of February 1989.
The objectives of the noise regulations are to prevent the occurrences of noise induce deafness, and to act as legal guidance to preserve the hearing of workers by stipulating a minimum standard and procedure. At this point, the employers bear a huge amount of responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees on noise exposure. Their responsibilities include:
- conducting noise exposure monitoring
- reducing the employees’ exposure to noise via engineering, administration, and making use of personal protective equipment
- establishing audiometric testing program
- attending institute training and education program
- establishing proper record-keeping
According to the legal requirements set by the authority, Reg. 5 & 6 stated that nobody is allowed to be exposed over
- 90 dB(A) for 8 hours or First Schedule or Daily noise dose of 1.0
- 115 dB(A) at any time
- 140 dB(A) for impulsive noise
in which the First Schedule is as follow:
(dB(A) – Slow)
Duration of Exposure Permitted per day
(hours – minutes)
For the Exposure Monitoring, the employer must always monitor the employee’s exposure to identify if any of his employees are in risk of being exposed to noise level at or above the action level. This can be done through an assessment conducted by Competent Person by using equipment of IEC standard (as per Reg. 9, 10, 11 and 12). After that, employee notification should be carried out within 2 weeks from then.
There are a lot of measures that can be done to achieve effective noise control, and each of them shows a different level of effectiveness. In general, they are classified into two categories for methods of compliance: Engineering and administrative control, and Hearing Protection Devices.
Employers can refer to the effectiveness level from the guide to begin carrying out the noise control measures in his company. As shown in the figure, engineering and administrative control measures are more effective as compared to using hearing protection devices. Therefore, it is best to start with attempting the engineering and administrative methods, and only resort to using hearing protections when required.
DOSH, 2018. Introduction of Noise & Legal Requirement, s.l.: Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia.
IOSH, 2018. Noise – noise control measures. [Online]
Available at: https://iosh.com/resources-and-research/our-resources/occupational-health-toolkit/noise/control-measures/
[Accessed July 2020].
Lee, K. S., 1989. Factories & Machinery (Noise Exposure) Regulations, s.l.: Federal Subsidiary Legislation.
Written by Khei Yinn Seow
Posted on August 26, 2020