How to reduce noise exposure in an industrial working environment

Noise-induced deafness and hearing loss are among the most common occupational diseases in Belgium. In addition to temporary or permanent hearing loss, it may also lead to a reduction in concentration, stress or an increased risk of accidents at work. As an employer, you can take steps to prevent that from happening.

Noise in the workplace is relatively easy to measure. Whether or not you are obliged to conduct noise measurements depends on the risk assessment. In the likelihood that your employees may be exposed to noise during their work, your internal or external service for prevention and protection at work will determine the level of exposure.

Some changes to the working environment, such as new processes and working methods, new machines or materials, or the commissioning of another building, have an impact on the noise. In such cases, you should have the noise measurements updated.

When is loud too loud?

Depending on the result, you may be legally obliged to take steps. Specific measures need to be taken for each guide value.

From 80 dB(A):

  • Provide your employees with hearing protection;
  • Provide information and training in the context of exposure to noise;
  • Your employees need to undergo an audiometry test every 5 years.

From 85 dB(A):

  • Your employees and any visitors are required to wear hearing protection;
  • Provide information and training in the context of exposure to noise;
  • Your employees undergo an audiometry test every 3 years;
  • Cordon off the danger zones. Provide appropriate signage and use pictograms in the workplace;
  • Take appropriate measures to limit exposure.

From 87 dB(A), taking into account the buffering effect of hearing protection:

  • Take the same steps as with 85 dB(A);
  • Your employees need to undergo an audiometry test every year;
  • Take immediate measures to reduce and prevent exposure to noise.

Reduce noise exposure in 3 steps

When faced with noise exposure, the first reflex of employers is to implement hearing protection. Even though hearing protection may appear to be the first stop-gap measure, eliminating the source of the noise or spreading of the noise are the real priorities.

  1. Remove the source of excessive noise (if possible)
    Choose work equipment, machines and working methods that produce little or no noise.
  2. Limit noise diffusion and exposure
    • ​​Try to shield the sources of the noise by placing them in separate rooms or install acoustic insulation around such sources.
    • If possible, adjust the design and layout of the workstation and workplace.
    • In addition, you can introduce a job rotation system to reduce exposure.
  3. Personal protective equipment (earplugs, custom earplugs or otoplastics, ear muffs) should only be considered and used if the above measures have insufficient impact.

Mensura helps you tackle noise

Noise measurements show you the prevailing noise level in your company, allowing you to take measures to reduce the noise level, if necessary. In addition, audiometry tests can be used to detect possible noise-induced hearing loss among your employees. Training raises their awareness of the need to wear hearing protection.


More information? Feel free to contact us by email of by phone on +32 2 549 71 00.