MEL Health and Safety Consultants

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations

Employers Responsibilities Explained

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 come into force on 6th April 2006.


Employers have extra responsibilities, and noise exposures and level limits are lowered.


What are the Action Levels and Limit Values?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require you to take specific action at certain action levels. These relate to:

The levels of exposure to noise of your employees averaged over a working day or week; and

The maximum noise (peak sound pressure) to which employees are exposed in a working day.

The values are:

Lower exposure action values  

  • daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB(A);
  • peak sound pressure of 135 dB(C);

Upper exposure action values

  • daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB(A); 
  • peak sound pressure of 137 dB(C).

There are also levels of noise which must not be exceeded:

Exposure limit values

  • daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB(A);
  • peak sound pressure of 140 dB(C).

These exposure limit values take account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection.

What does the law require employers to do?


You are required to:

  • Provide your employees with hearing protectors if they ask for it and their noise exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values;
  • Provide your employees with hearing protectors and make sure that they use them properly when their noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure action values;
  • Identify hearing protection zones, i.e. areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory, and mark them with signs if possible;
  • Provide your employees with training and information on how to use and care for their hearing protectors;
  • Ensure that the hearing protectors are properly used and maintained.

If the risk assessment indicates that there is a risk to the health of employees, you must also provide health surveillance (hearing checks) for all of your employees who are likely to be regularly exposed above the upper exposure action values, or are at risk for any reason, e.g. they already suffer from hearing loss or are particularly sensitive to damage.

  • Telling employees about the results of their hearing checks;
  • Keeping health records;
  • Ensuring employees are examined by a doctor where hearing damage is identified.

The purpose of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 is to make sure that people do not suffer damage to their hearing, so controlling noise risks and noise exposure should be where you concentrate your efforts.

Think about how to remove the loud noise altogether. If that is not possible, do all you can to control the noise at the source, consider redesigning the workplace or reorganising working patterns.


Consider the following:

  • Use a different, quieter process or quieter equipment.
  • Introduce engineering controls (silencers, anti-vibration mounts, flexible couplings).
  • Modify the paths by which the noise travels through the air to the people exposed (enclosures, barriers and screens).
  • Design and lay out the workplace for low noise emission.
  • Limit the time spent in noisy areas.
Proper and regular maintenance of machinery and equipment is essential as it will deteriorate with age and can become noisier. Listen out for changes in noise levels – it may be time to replace worn of faulty parts.