Government is not prioritising noise reduction with the necessary vigour in industry across the board, says acoustic consulting engineering practice Mackenzie Hoy Consulting Acoustics Engineers principal engineer Terry Mackenzie-Hoy.
He notes that the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to use engineering means to reduce noise levels, barrier off high-noise areas or issue hearing protection to employees, in that order of precedence.
“However, employers issue only hearing protection, and there is a growing number of persons who are receiving disability pensions, owing to industry noise- induced hearing loss.”
Further, Mackenzie-Hoy states that the government regularly appoints universities to report on how to reduce noise and vibration in the workplace, which produces studies that “change nothing”.
“The Occupational Health and Safety Act is clear, and health inspectors must enforce it,” he maintains.
However, he points out that health inspectors appoint an “accredited person”, which they assume to be an occupational hygienist who can measure noise levels, instead of an acoustics engineer who can design mitigation measures; therefore, engineering means are never used to reduce noise levels.
Government will have to take the initiative to implement noise and vibration programmes and ensure that the occupational health and safety requirements in terms of noise and vibration are met.
Mackenzie-Hoy highlights that there are new measurement methods for noise and vibration being developed, such as acoustic cameras, which allow for the real-time location of noise sources.