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Occupational Hygiene Monitoring: Physical Stressor
Area Noise Monitoirng (Noise Zoning)

At the Mine Health and Safety Summit of 2003, the tripartite stakeholders in mining agreed to targets and milestones, which are aimed at addressing the major health and safety concerns of the sector. The milestones are considered to be intermediate steps to achieving targets of zero fatalities and injuries, silicosis elimination and the elimination of noise-induced hearing loss.

Elimination of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss:
a) The present noise exposure limit stated in the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act 29 of 1996) Regulations is no more than 85dB LAeq,8h.
b) After December 2008, the hearing conservation programme implemented by the industry must ensure that there is no deterioration in hearing greater than 10% amongst occupationally exposed individuals.
c) By December 2013, the total noise emitted by all equipment installed in any workplace must not exceed a sound pressure level of 110 dBA at any location in that workplace (including individual pieces of equipment).

The Mine Health and Safety Act requires that the employer establishes and maintains a system of occupational hygiene measurements, as stipulated in Section 12 (Occupational Hygiene Monitoring), of all working places where the noise rating is at or above 82dB LAeq,8h.
As indicated earlier, the employer under the Occupational Health and Safety Act is responsible for implementing a Hearing Conservation Programme. The employer under the requirements of the Mine Health and Safety Act, should implement an Occupational Health Programme on Hearing Conservation and has a requirement for conducting Personal Noise Exposure Monitoring and report back on the findings on a quarterly basis to the Department of Mineral Resources on Personal Noise Exposure - Report Form 21.9(2) (e).

The Occupational Health Programme on Hearing Conservation is drawn up in accordance with the guidelines of the South African Mines Occupational Hygiene Programme (SAMOHP) Codebook. Personal exposure monitoring is conducted in accordance with section 8.3.3 for Personal Noise Dosimetry (Annex D of SANS 10083:2012 – The Measurement and Assessment of Occupational Noise for Hearing Conservation Purposes), and continuous monthly monitoring is conducted to determine the exposure levels of employees in their respective Homogeneous Exposure Groups (HEG) and allocated a classification band in accordance with the SAMOHP Classification Band and Action Requirements Table for Noise.

If use of the above references are unable to clearly determine HEGs then an acceptable international methodology such as NIOSH Occupational Exposure Sampling Strategy Manual (OESSM) or the British Standard BS EN 689:1996 may be utilised.

Any exposures at or above 85 dB LAeq,8h, and/or Peak Sound Level > 135 dBA requires the employer to implement a formal Hearing Conservation Programme as described above.

It is important to note that these requirements under the OHS and MHS Acts are applicable to fixed as well as mobile working places.

InDuna Risk Management assists clients by conducting noise assessments in the working environment and recommends the best system of control to mitigate the risks identified.

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