European Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2010-2011 on Safe Maintenance

Legal Obligations | Maintenance - a High Risk Activity | Provision of Appropriate Equipment | Solving Noise Issues through Maintenance|

Safe maintenance is good business

Good maintenance can reduce the physical hazard of noise. Two different types of maintenance can be distinguished:

Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance, when actions are intended to restore a system from a failed state to a working state (e.g. repair or replacement of broken components), this type of maintenance is also known as “reactive maintenance” because the action is initiated when the unscheduled event of an equipment failure occurs and

Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance, when actions are carried out at predetermined intervals or according to prescribed criteria intended to reduce the probability of failure or the degradation of the functioning of an item, in this case, actions are scheduled, proactive and intended to control the deterioration process leading to failure of a system (e.g. replacement, lubrication, cleaning or inspection). 

The Problem

Proper and regular maintenance of machinery and equipment is essential as machinery and equipment will deteriorate with age and can become noisier.

  • Listen out for changes in noise levels - it may be time to replace worn or faulty parts.
  • Increased attention to maintenance of tools and equipment will reduce noise levels. Maintaining your plant and equipment in good order not only increases its life, but makes it safer to use and quieter.
  • Machine maintenance can be critical in reducing noise. Machines deteriorate with age and use, and if not maintained are likely to produce more noise due to factors such as worn parts, poor lubrication and loose panels vibrating. Maintenance can, if carried out periodically, limit the increased noise emission due to wear.
  • Exposure to excessive noise from unmaintained plant and equipment can cause temporary or permanent deafness. Temporary deafness is often experienced after leaving a noisy place. Although hearing recovers within a few hours, temporary deafness should not be ignored as it is a sign that continued or regular exposure to such noise could cause permanent damage.

Hearing loss is usually gradual due to prolonged exposure to noise. It may only be when damage caused by noise over the years combines with normal hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how deaf they have become. Noise- induced hearing loss is permanent and incurable and can affect anybody.

Exposure to noise may also cause tinnitus, which is a sensation of noises in the ears such as ringing or buzzing. This may occur in combination with hearing loss.