Time to Reduce Noise in Your Environment? (What Did You Say?)
Noise is a major concern in most of our customers’ environments. It isn’t something you can get away from; you can use various methods to move noise around and dampen it, but it’s always a factor.
According to OSHA, noise-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the U.S. Short-term exposure to loud noise can cause ringing in the ears and temporarily affect a person’s hearing while persistent, ongoing levels of loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss.
High levels of noise can also create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, and interfere with communication and concentration. They can also be a safety hazard, interfering with communications and the ability to detect when a machine is in need of repair.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that work environments should not allow workers to be exposed to more than 85 dBA for more than eight hours. To meet this requirement, employers need to monitor noise levels and make changes to tools, equipment, and schedules accordingly.
So how does a company limit exposure to hazardous levels of noise? Companies can start by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as ear protectors or ear plugs to shield against hearing loss.
But a more effective method of protection is to implement controls, such as modifying or replacing equipment, making changes along the transmission path, or limiting the amount of time a worker spends near a noise source.
To help reduce noise levels at the source, OSHA recommends implementing a purchasing program such as NASA’s BuyQuietRoadmap, a tool that emphasizes purchasing of quieter machinery. The NASA site is also a helpful resource for other companies because it includes information about noise levels and research about available products.
Richard Greene can include noise reduction as a criterion in selecting equipment. We can recommend equipment that produces less noise and solutions that reduce the noise levels in your processes.