Understanding noise in the workplace
Measuring noise levels and workers’ noise exposures is an important part of a workplace hearing conservation, hearing loss prevention (HLPP), or noise control program. It helps identify areas where high noise levels exist, the level of risk to employees who may be affected, and where additional control measures can be employed.
How is workplace noise measured?
For occupational hygiene purposes, the sound level is measured to determine noise exposures. Various instruments and techniques can be used, including sound level meters, integrating sound level meters, and noise dosimeters. The choice depends on the type of workplace noise, the working environment, and the information required.
Indicators of potentially hazardous noise levels include:
- Noise is louder than busy city traffic.
- People have to raise their voice to talk to someone at one metre (3 feet) away.
- At the end of work shift people have to increase the volume of their radio or TV to a level too loud for others.
- After working for a few years at that workplace, employees find it difficult to communicate in a crowd or party situation where there are other sounds or many voices.
Once a noise hazard is identified, the following steps can be used to implement an effective hearing loss prevention program or HLPP:
- Perform noise measurements throughout the workplace
- Eliminate sources of noise
- Employ engineering or administrative controls
- Employ noise hazard communication throughout the workplace
- Educate and train the workforce on Noise hazards, audiometric testing, and proper use of hearing protection devices.
- Provide appropriate hearing protective devices
- Perform audiometric testing
- Keep records of all aspects of the HLPP
- Implement a review process for the HLPP
What things need to be considered when planning noise measurement?
Before taking field measurements, it is important to determine the type of information required. It’s critical that the person performing the measurement must understand:
- The purpose of the measurement: compliance with noise regulations, hearing loss prevention, noise control, community annoyance, etc.
- The sources of noise, and times when the sources are operating
- The pattern of the noise – continuous, variable, intermittent, or impulse.
- Locations of exposed persons
Do you have a noise problem in your workplace? Not sure which of our noise assessment consulting services is right for you? Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you choose the right path towards protecting the hearing of your workers.