How Fitting a Larger Fan May Cause Noise Health and Safety Issues
Prevention Versus Remedial Action
Tools and machines often generate a tremendous amount of heat as they perform their particular operations. This heat can not only reduce the life of the components inside and cause the machine to malfunction or break down completely, but in serious cases it can even be responsible for starting a fire - especially if it is situated near flammable material - or causing an explosion. The potential danger in terms of the health and safety of people is therefore great as it can affect a number of individuals over quite a wide area if a fire were to take hold and spread, or the explosion was particularly large and/or damaged structures and caused a collapse.
In order to combat this heat problem, many machines make use of fans which blow air over the hot component and expel the air out of the back through a vent. This sufficiently cools the parts to enable the machine to operate normally without overheating and causing a danger. It is therefore imperative that vents are not covered and are kept clear at all times in order to allow the hot air to escape, otherwise the machinery will quickly overheat and have the potential to cause a fire or explosion. Whilst many machines will have automatic safety cut-outs which will shut the machine down when it gets too hot, the heated components still create a significant risk of fire.
Whilst fans can be extremely effective in cooling hot components and bringing their temperature down, they can also be noisy. This is likely to be nothing more than an inconvenience on many small pieces of equipment such as computers, but on large piece of machinery these fans can be loud, especially if there is more than one of them in operation spinning at high speeds.
One remedy for this issue is to fit one large fan which rotates at a slower speed. Although this will create less high-pitched noise which will often reduce sound levels down to a safe level which will not damage the hearing of people nearby, the lower frequency noise will travel further and may provide a nuisance to people over a far greater area. It is important when it comes to any health and safety issue that introducing a remedy for one situation does not create a different hazard which poses a danger. An important aspect of risk assessments and remedial action involves determining how one action can impact another process and potentially introduce a new hazard.
Even more of a risk to the hearing of workers are very large fans which are used in situations such as air extractors to prevent the build-up of hazardous substances in the air. These fans need to be particularly large in size in order to perform this function, and as a result can be noisy. A suitable risk assessment needs to be carried out in order to assess the risks to the hearing of those working in the building, not to mention anybody who happens to be visiting the site.