One of the most important ways to protect employees from excessive workplace noise is to regularly measure noise levels throughout the work place. Industrial sound levels are routinely changing. Air handling noise and ventilation systems can significantly increase sound levels from one season to another. New or updated machinery, revised floor plans and changes in production levels can all contribute to potentially damaging noise levels. If your facility does not perform routine noise measurements, then your employees are at risk of long-term health effects and may already be displaying signs of diminished hearing.
How to Measure Noise Levels in the Workplace
A hand held Sound Level Meter is most commonly used to measure sound pressure levels to determine workplace noise exposure.
Technological advances have also made it possible for anyone with a cell phone to be able to measure surrounding decibel levels as well. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) even has their own mobile app available for download – known as the NIOSH Sound Level Meter App. While sound measuring phone applications are a useful entry level tool, devices designed specifically for measuring sound are recommended to more accurately identify the extent of noise exposure at hand.
Common Tools Used To Measure Noise in the Workplace
Dosimeter: a meter designed to measure noise exposure of a person integrated over a period of time. They result in either a dose or an equivalent sound level and are the most accurate specifically for personal noise exposure.
Sound Level Meter: a hand-held meter used for acoustic measures (or sound that travels through the air). Also referred to as SLMs, they feature a microphone that responds to changes in air pressure when sound waves travel.
Integrating Sound Level Meter: similar to a standard SLM but used to measure sound energy over a period of time. In order to get an Equivalent Continuous Sound Level (or Leq value), the sound exposure is divided by the duration of the measurement.
Impulse Sound Level Meter: though these aren’t used as often as in the past, these are used to measure short bursts of sounds while mimicking the response of the ear.
On-Site Noise Control Assessment
Once a noise problem is identified, the next step is to take the necessary actions needed to lower noise exposure to a safe and compliant level. O’Neill Engineered Systems, Inc. will conduct an on-site noise assessment at your facility, which involves becoming familiar with the source of the noise problem and then recommending an efficient and economical solution.admin