Noise Assessment: What it is and why it matters - Blog on all things about noise and noise controls

We live in a very noisy world. The world is getting louder. It’s common knowledge that technology is advancing at a rapid pace and that life itself has sped up in recent years. We live in a world where more and more work is done by machines. Although there are significant benefits present in our society, due to more and more work being done by machines and work itself being more and more automated, there are (thankfully) still people working in various industries that have seen such advances. People still work workplaces that have seen drastic changes due to automation and the introduction of various forms of machinery. Although work is more efficient and a lot quicker, it?s a lot louder. Many workplaces, especially those that involve heavy machinery, can be very noisy. If you are employed in a workplace that has a lot of heavy machinery or environmental noise, you might be at risk of hearing loss. If that is the case, noise assessment is a definite must.

Basics of Noise Assessment

A noise assessment is a set of measures that help people or groups of people decide whether the level of noise in a selected area is acceptable according to a various set of rules and guidelines, in the case of workplace noise assessment that would be health and safety guidelines in addition to other laws and regulations. Noise assessment is necessary because there are various risks of noise pollution in society today and they are increasing in number and regularity. The need for noise control is nothing new and some form of it was in place even in most ancient cities throughout history. The reason for this is mostly public health and quality of life. In workplaces, there is also an abundant need for noise assessment and control, mostly due to health and safety reasons of employees. In general environmental noise control is necessary to maintain the quality of life of society at large, since excessive unwanted noise can significantly decrease the quality of life in the area, especially urban areas and it can disrupt normal human activity in the area. In addition to these factors, it can also be a cause of hearing loss. This is especially the case when workplace noise is concerned. As already stated many workplaces are filled with excessive noise, which makes the general need for noise control even greater. It many cases employees are exposed to varying levels of noise based on the different areas they may work in during the day. Noise dosimetry completed over the full shift can help in understanding overall exposure for the day.

How We Hear

To put things into perspective, a quick basic outline of noise measurement is required. Noise is otherwise known as unwanted sound, and sound is measured in decibels (dB). If we want to successfully determine acceptable noise levels a thorough knowledge of human hearing is required since human hearing is the biggest concern. Us humans detect sound through our ears. Anatomically speaking, the human ear can be divided into three parts: outer, middle and inner ear. Those three parts of a human ear constitute the human hearing system. The outer eat constitutes
of the pinna (visible part of the ear), ear canal and eardrum. The middle ear consists of a small air- filled chamber that is located medial to the eardrum. Within this chamber are the three smallest
bones in the body, known collectively as the ossicles their purpose is to aid in the transmission of the vibrations from the eardrum into the inner ear. The inner ear consists of the cochlea, which is a spiral-shaped, fluid-filled tube and its purpose is to transform the sound to the brain which deciphers it and defines it. As we already stated, we measure sound in decibels and normal conversation could be measured in 55 dB, sound in the library at 30dB, vacuum cleaner 85dB, chainsaw 100dB, motorcycle 120dB and jet engine at 130dB.