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Petroleum & Gas Inspectorate | Bulletin | No.17 V 1 | 25 July 2022

Noise Health Risk Assessments on Drilling & Completion Activities

What happened?

The Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate (PGI) conducted a Noise Health Risk Assessment across several drilling & completion plant and activities to determine a baseline for noise hazards. The principal health related effect of noise exposure is hearing loss. Damage to hearing depends on the frequency, loudness and length of noise exposure. Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is painless, progressive, permanent and preventable. By controlling the noise within the lease, the benefit extends to environmental noise management e.g. improving landholder relations.

How did it happen?

In April 2022, PGI conducted the first ever personal noise monitoring and area noise sampling of numerous stakeholders across tenure holder drilling & completion lease activities:
  • 2 x drilling rigs
  • 1 x workover rig
  • 2 x cementing units
  • 2 x vac trucks
Each of the 33 personnel participating in the noise HRA were fitted with an intrinsically safe dosimeter which recorded the noise exposure the person was exposed to throughout their 12-hr shift. Two hundred and twenty-one, 20-second noise samples were taken across the lease, of noise exposure during various activities and of equipment operating under various stages of load. A detailed noise map was developed based on the samples collected and provided to the involved participants, along with a detailed report of the findings.

Key issues

  • A 12-hr work shift has a target noise level of 82.2 dBA. Personal noise exposure levels are adjusted for shift durations in excess of 8-hrs (85 dBA) to allow for the increased period of exposure and decreased time for recovery.
  • Positional exposure levels identified:
    • 2 x results below 82 dBA (1 x Rig Manager & 1 x Night Rig Manager)
    • 3 x results between 82 – 85 dBA (2 x day OCR & 1 x night OCR)
    • 26 x results above 85 dBA – all other positions (Rig Manager, Driller, Assistant Driller, Derrickman, Motorman, Floorman, Leasehand, Cementers & Truck Drivers)
  • In addition to potential hearing damage experienced during periods of exposure, the addition of ototoxins increases the risk to personnel. Ototoxins are the exposure to noise and certain physical (vibration) or chemical agents (e.g. carbon monoxide, benzene, lead, mercury, organic solvents and certain metals) and appear to have a cumulative and/or synergistic effect on hearing loss. Ototoxins can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed into the skin, entering the bloodstream and are circulated to the brain where they damage the cells used in hearing and balance. Ototoxins remain in the body long after the noise exposure has ceased and continue to cause damage.
  • Area noise measurement results identified various operations and plant that exceeded the adjusted noise level (all above adjusted limit):
Operation or PlantLAeq (dBA)LCpeak (dBC)
Knocking up hardline (striking metal action)101.3138.2
Cementing operations112.8130.2
Mud pumps105.4119.4
Koomey units95.0112.9
Vac truck suction pumps92.4106.9
Drillers station85.9117.7
Rig carrier engine99.8115.0


  • Identify noise hazards by using a competent person to conduct personal noise testing (not environmental noise testing)
  • Develop audiometric testing program, as mandated by the Noise Code of Practice QLD 2021
  • Apply Hierarchy of Controls to control noise, focusing on engineering controls e.g. sound attenuation curtains or fully enclosed noise attenuating enclosures around engines rather than low-level controls e.g. PPE and behaviour to follow procedures
    • Review the type and class rating of the current hearing protection and tailor to the noise hazard exposure - over-attenuation is just as hazardous as under-attenuation
  • Ensure personnel receive thorough training to understand the hazards associated with noise and the effects it has e.g. NIHL.

References and further information

Authorised by Radika Lucas - Deputy Chief Inspector – Petroleum & Gas

Contact: Donna Jamieson, Senior Inspector , +61 467 789 613

Issued by Resources Safety & Health Queensland

Safety: This information is issued to promote safety through experience. It is not to be taken as a statement of law and must not be construed to waive or modify any legal obligation.