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Noise Control

Last updated: November 4, 2020

What Does Noise Control Mean?

Noise control is a type of hazard control designed to limit the amount of noise to which workers are exposed within the workplace. The noise control process may include both efforts to minimize the amount of noise present in the workplace at any given time, as well as the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect employees from work environments in which high noise levels are unavoidable.

If PPE cannot be used effectively within a high-noise level situation, administrative controls that limit the amount of time an employee is allowed to work in a high-noise situation may also be used as a form of noise control.

The most effective methods of noise control are those that limit the amount of noise produced in a workplace. These methods include the use of engineering controls designed to reduce the amount of noise that a particular machine may produce, as well as the use of an overall approach to workplace design that prioritizes sound absorption.

Safeopedia Explains Noise Control

Noise control is an important aspect of occupational health and safety. Undue exposure to noise can cause hearing loss, which is one of the most common negative health effects suffered by workers. Noisy environments may also hinder safety-critical communication, increase employee stress, or cause distractions that increase an employee’s cognitive load, thus hindering the ability to work safety.

Due to the various negative effects of noise exposure, most occupational health and safety jurisdictions have imposed legal limits on acceptable workplace noise exposure. This makes the use of noise controls a mandatory requirement for many workplaces, and it means that employers must be able to quantify workplace noise levels to ensure that their noise control solutions are sufficient to comply with all relevant regulations.

The noise control process involves multiple steps. First, potential sound sources—including electronics, sources of vibration, and sources of airflow—must all be identified, and their respective sound levels must be quantified. These noise sources are then controlled by replacing them with lower-noise substitutes, reducing the noise they emit, or using building/environmental materials with noise-absorbent properties (acoustic barriers). If this is insufficient to reduce noise to an acceptable level, employees must be protected via administrative policies or through the use of PPE to lower their sound exposure.

The use of acoustic barriers is a common form of noise control used in both very noisy environments and within environments in which noise levels are not sufficiently high to cause hearing damage but that still may be loud enough to cause stress to workers (such as offices). By designing a workplace with material that does not readily reflect sound, especially in areas around noise sources, the overall level of noise in a work environment may be reduced substantially.


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