Govt recommends workplace noise limit

Kathmandu, April 15

The government has set the standard of permissible exposure limit for noise at workplace.

The standard to this effect was published by the Ministry of Finance in the Nepal Gazette yesterday. Section 36 of the Labour Act, 1992 has vested on the government the power to determine the standards of safety at workplace.

According to the notification published in the Nepal Gazette, these limits are based on an eight-hour time weighted average. With noise, the PEL is 90 dBA for all workers for eight-hour day.

The standard uses a 5 dBA exchange rate which means that when the noise level is increased by 5 dBA, the amount of time a person can be exposed to a certain noise level to receive the same dose is cut in half.

“For example, the PEL is 95 dAB for four hours, 100 dAB for two hours, 105 dAB for one hour, 110 dAB for 30 minutes and 115 dAB for 15 minutes a day in the workplace,” read the notification.

No exposure in excess of 115 dAB shall be permitted in the workplace.

It informed that the noise monitoring procedure shall be as guided by the International Standard ISI 1996 and 1999.

Occupational noise-induced hearing loss is the development of hearing loss because of exposure to high levels of noise. In any work environment, there can be many reasons to keep sound levels within a reasonable range.

With noise, the permissible exposure limit is 90 dBA for all workers based on eight-hour time weighted average

Sound levels above this range are perceived as noise. Noise can distract the workforce, creating an unsafe workplace. Or, worse yet, it can cause hearing loss.

High noise levels over prolonged periods of time can lead to permanent hearing loss, say various reports. The government has also recommended the minimum light illumination level for workplace depending on the types of work and place. The lux (unit of illumination) should not be less than between 10 and 100.

Emergency exit and emergency pathways shall have 10 lux, inactive storage 20 lux, rough active storage and warehouse 50 lux, machine work 100 lux, checking and sorting 300 lux, weaving dark coloured woolen goods 500 lux and jewellery and watch manufacturing 1000 lux.

Any local light, that is to say, an artificial light designed to illuminate, particularly the area or part of the area of work of a single operative or small group of operatives working near each other, shall be provided with a suitable shade of opaque material to prevent glare with other effective means by which the light source is completely screened from the eyes of every person employed at a normal working place, or shall be so place that no such person is exposed to glare therefrom, said the notification.