Evaluation of occupational workplace noise levels in an enclosed workshop at KiwiRail

Elizabeth Satherely , Stuart McLaren

New Zealand Acoustics, 29(2), pp.24- 31 . (2016).

An occupational workplace noise evaluation was carried out of in the engineering shop and locomotive stripping and preparation areas of KiwiRail shop in Hutt City. Five hand draw cutting saws were evaluated. Measured sound pressure levels (at the position of the operator’s ear) increased substantially for four of the saws as they were put under load. Overall the measured sound pressure levels ranged from 88 dB to 101 dB LAeq for the duration of trial. One saw emitted a sound pressure level of 101 dB LAeq unchanged when operating under free running conditions and loading. An evaluation of the locomotive striping and preparation area revealed general steady sound pressure levels ranging from 100 - 102 dB LAeq 1.5h as measured by four fixed sound level meters placed around the study area. The nature of the work and protective clothing worn did not permit personal sound exposure meters (dosimeters) to be fitted to the workers during the evaluation. An alternative method prescribed in the Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1269:2005 for Occupational Noise Management, was therefore adopted. Class 5 hearing protectors were provided, but found not to be fitted correctly by the employees. As this is a high risk operation for excessive noise exposure, a number of recommendations have been made which included: an alternative form of hearing protection for the workers due to the nature of the work that is done; the implementation of a training and education programme as outlined in the approved code of practice for the management of noise in the workplace; and adoption of a ‘Buy quiet’ policy when replacing tools and equipment.