EU Occupational Health Directives
The European Union has reached agreement on two new directives dealing with noise and vibration in the working environment - Human Vibration Directive 2002/44/EC and Noise at Work Directive 2003/10/EC.
The Directives are the sixteenth and seventeenth individual Directives based on Article 16 of the Safety at Work Directive 89/391/EEC. Both are part of the so-called Physical Agents Directive and are to be implemented in national legislation within three years of publication. Member states can introduce or keep regulations that give even better protection but, conversely, existing domestic regulations that better those of the new directives cannot be relaxed.
Human Vibration Directive 2002/44/EC
The Human Vibration Directive 2002/44/EC is officially known as the "Directive 2002/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2002 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (vibration)".
The most vital regulations are those that establish action values (whereby certain protective procedures must be set in place) and limit values (which must never be breached). The vibration directive has single action values set at 2.5 m/s2 for hand-arm vibration and 0.5 m/s2 for whole-body vibration with a hand-arm limit value of 5 m/s2 and a whole-body limit value of 1.15 m/s2 (equivalent continuous acceleration values).
The values are such that workers are afforded good protection. In addition, many companies will be forced to change their work tools.
Measurements are made according to the latest ISO standards. For hand-arm vibration, it is important to note that ISO-5439-2:2002 "Mechanical vibration - Measurement of human exposure to hand-transmitted vibration - Part 2: Practical guidance for measurement at the workplace" requires that regular checks of functionality are made both before and after a sequence of measurements. This involves a calibrator such as the Vibration Calibrator Type 4294 for compliance.
Member States must comply with this directive by 6th July 2005. However, Member States have a maximum transitional period of 5 years (2010) where work equipment given to workers before 2007 does not permit the exposure limit values to be respected (taking into account the latest technical advances and/or the organisational measures taken). In addition, for agriculture and forestry, this deadline can be extended by up to 4 years (2014).
The text of the human vibration directive in English can be found on http://europa.eu/.
Noise at Work Directive 2003/10/EC
Noise at Work Directive 2003/10/EC is officially known as the "Directive 2003/10/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 February 2003 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (noise)".
In the directive, the following limit and action values are defined:
(a) exposure limit values: LEX,8h = 87 dB(A) and ppeak = 200 Pa respectively;
(b) upper exposure action values: LEX,8h = 85 dB(A) and ppeak = 140 Pa respectively;
(c) lower exposure action values: LEX,8h = 80 dB(A) and ppeak = 112 Pa respectively.
- The daily noise exposure level (LEX,8h) is the average noise exposure level for a nominal 8-hour working day as defined by ISO 1999
- The peak sound pressure (ppeak) is the maximum value of the 'C'-frequency weighted instantaneous noise pressure
The Member States are to comply with this Directive before 15 February 2006. However, there may have an additional period of five years from 15 February 2006 with regard to limit values for personnel on board seagoing vessels. And, for the music and entertainment sectors, Member States have a maximum transitional period of two years from 15 February 2006 (i.e. five years in total) to comply with this Directive, provided that, in the meantime, the levels of protection already achieved are maintained.
The text of the noise at work directive in English can be found on http://europa.eu/.
For meeting the noise directive, Brüel & Kjær has a wide range of noise dose meters, sound level meters and software.