EMPLOYMENT: PARLIAMENT CLEARS NOISE DIRECTIVE DEAL.
The main points of the agreement reached in conciliation can be summarised as follows:
- Workers will be better protected from risks arising from exposure to noise: The upper exposure action value over an eight-hour period has been set at 85 dB(A) and the impulsional noise upper action value (peak) at 140 Pa. (i.e. 137 dB in relation to 20 mPa). Workers will have to wear individual hearing protectors where the noise exposure reaches these values. Preventive audiometric testing should be available if the exposure exceeds the lower exposure action values and there is a verified risk to health.
- Employers will be obliged to pay particular attention to the availability of hearing protectors with adequate noise reduction characteristics. They are responsible for checking the effectiveness of the personal protection measures and obliged to make every effort to ensure that employees wear individual hearing protectors.
- The specific nature of the music and entertainment sectors will be taken into account in the implementation of the provisions of the Directive: The Member States shall draw up in consultation with the social partners a code of conduct providing for practical guidelines to help worker in these sectors to meet the obligations laid down in the Directive. In addition, with regard to these sectors the Member States are entitled to make use of a maximum transitional period of a total of five years from the entry into force of the Directive on condition that the levels of protection already achieved are maintained.
- The Member States' reports to the European Commission on the implementation of the directive shall contain a description of best practices for preventing noise. On the basis of the Member States' reports, the Commission shall carry out an overall assessment of the implementation of the Directive taking into account inter alia the implications of the Directive for the music and entertainment sectors.
British Conservatives, the most vocal critics of the Directive, were not impressed. "The proposals make it obligatory for workers to wear individual hearing protectors where the noise exposure reaches certain levels", they complained. "This proposal could effect workers across the range of British industry from builders to barmen." Helle Thorning-Schmidt, welcoming the move, said: "I am glad that we have now decided that it is no longer enough for employers to simply supply hearing protection for their employees. From now on employers are required first and foremost to find ways of preventing high levels of noise. Hearing protection should only be used as a last resort."
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|Title Annotation:||workplace noise exposure|
|Date:||Dec 7, 2002|
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