Hierarchy of Noise Risk Control: Exposure and Control Measures

Hierarchy of Noise Risk Control: Exposure and Control Measures

Noise pollution is a common occupational hazard in the modern workplace that can cause several health problems, such as stress, hearing loss, and decreased productivity. Employing the Hierarchy of Noise Risk Control, organizations approach this problem methodically. To create a safer and healthier work environment, this structured approach gives priority to actions that limit and regulate noise exposure.

What is the hierarchy of noise risk control?

What is the hierarchy of noise risk control? 

A methodical strategy for controlling and reducing occupational noise exposure at work is the Hierarchy of Noise Risk Control. It ranks different control measures according to how well they lessen noise hazards. Usually, the hierarchy consists of the following levels:

Removal or Replacement:

Elimination: If at all possible, take out the noise source completely.

Substitution: Switch out noisy machinery or procedures with more silent ones.

  1. Engineering controls: To lower noise emissions, and alter workspaces or equipment. Using vibration isolators, enclosures, or noise barriers are a few examples.
  2. Administrative Controls: To reduce noise exposure, and alter work procedures or schedules. This could entail switching up jobs, putting noisy jobs on during slow times, or setting aside peaceful spaces for breaks.
  3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): When all other control measures are impractical or during brief exposure, wear protective gear such as earmuffs or earplugs as a last resort.

This hierarchy offers a methodical approach by stressing the need to always address noise at its source. Engineering controls, administrative actions, and personal protective equipment come next. The objective is to systematically lower and regulate noise exposure levels to create a safer working environment.

Let’s discuss some of the details of each hierarchy:

  1. Removal or Substitution: Getting rid of or replacing noisy machinery or processes is at the top of the hierarchy. This method necessitates a detailed evaluation of the equipment and processes currently in place. Redesigning procedures or implementing newer, quieter technologies are two effective ways to reduce noise production. Although removal is the best option, substitution can still significantly lower overall noise levels by swapping out noisy equipment for quieter models.
  2. Controls for engineering: Engineering controls are essential when replacement or elimination is not practical. This group includes tweaking workstations or equipment to reduce noise pollution. Common engineering control methods include installing vibration isolators, acoustic enclosures, or noise barriers to lessen sound transmission. By physically altering the environment, organizations can create a buffer between the noise source and employees, effectively reducing exposure.
  3. Administrative Controls: Administrative controls aim to reduce noise exposure at work by modifying work practices. This entails rotating jobs, setting aside quiet spaces for breaks, and carefully scheduling noisy jobs for times when occupancy is low. Administrative controls are useful, but they are less dependable than engineering or elimination controls because they rely on human behavior and compliance.
  4. Equipment for personal protection (PPE): Personal protective equipment (PPE) like earmuffs or earplugs can be used as a last resort. PPE should never be the main means of control; instead, it should be used as a backup plan in situations where other controls are insufficient or during brief exposures. It is essential to guarantee the consistent and appropriate application of PPE and to give suitable training on its proper use.

Administrative Controls

Putting the Hierarchy into Practice:

A thorough risk assessment is the first step towards putting the Hierarchy of Noise Risk Control into practice. Crucial actions include locating and measuring noise sources, assessing worker exposure levels via sound level measurements, and choosing suitable control measures. To guarantee that controls remain effective over time, ongoing evaluation and monitoring are required, considering modifications to technology, machinery, or work procedures.


Making the Hierarchy of Noise Risk Control a top priority is essential to establishing a more secure and healthful workplace. Organizations can safeguard their workforce from the harmful effects of excessive noise by systematically addressing noise exposure through engineering controls, administrative measures, elimination, and, when necessary, personal protective equipment (PPE). A successful comprehensive noise control program will rely on a customized mix of these tactics, reinforced by continuous observation and modification.


  1. Applying the hierarchy of hazard control to regulation of sound level in environment venues: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32215547/