Noise is any unwanted sound that has the potential to interfere with communication and to damage people's hearing. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a permanent impairment of hearing, resulting from exposure to excessive noise. NIHL is one of the most prevalent occupational injuries in the South African mining industry.
The Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC), as per the mandate of the Mine Health and Safety Act of 1996 as amended, decreed at the 2014 Occupational Health and Safety Summit Milestones, that 'by December 2024, the total operational or process noise emitted by any equipment must not exceed a milestone sound pressure level of 107 dB(A) and by December 2016, no employee's Standard Threshold Shift (STS) will exceed 25 dB from the baseline when averaged at 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hz in one or both ears.
The Noise Team also recognises the need to balance economic realities, technological limitations and management of the noise hazard, and the feasibility of some endeavours. As a result, it supports effective engineering and administrative controls and personalised protective clothing – hearing protection devices (HPDs).