Avoiding waste through a targeted noise survey

in Noise
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A quality noise survey reduces cost for operators by recommending practical, targeted controls for dominant sources of hazardous exposure. 

Many surveys fail to do this, committing facility operators to wasteful expenditure on ineffective noise controls. 

Wasteful spending includes noise controls on equipment not in a work area and therefore not exposing people to hazards. Controls that impact on the operation of equipment or introduce safety risks are also impractical. We have also seen controls recommended in noise reports that simply do not produce any attenuation in noise. 

Poorly conceived controls can arise when noise officers aren’t able to attribute the levels they measure with the actual sources of exposure.

A noise survey is a regulatory requirement and is a key step in reducing exposure for workers. It identifies sources of hazardous noise by measuring and ranking noisy equipment that contribute to exposure.

Production facilities often have significant numbers of employees whose exposure exceeds the allowed limit, 85 dB(A) averaged over an eight-hour shift. When a noise survey finds excessive exposure, employers must commit to reducing it through a noise control plan.

A targeted noise survey facilitates the efficient preparation of a noise control plan, avoiding waste by:

  • Using the noise officer’s time effectively: Hazardous exposure is often caused by a small portion of the equipment on a site. Focusing on equipment that exposes workers to hazardous noise minimises the time required to collect and process data. This approach reduces cost while ensuring that the important data are captured.
  • Recommending effective controls: Effective noise controls reduce exposure without compromising safety or operations. The best return on investment, measured as a ratio of risk reduction to cost of control, can be achieved by treating the noise sources that contribute most to exposure.

An effective noise control plan also aligns with the organisation’s goals and strategies, business drivers and values. Willingness to accept trade-offs between risk and benefit or operational and capital spending vary between companies and industries. These factors determine the best way to manage noise for each company.

Managers armed with a targeted noise survey can commit to controls that are practical to implement at their facility and are effective in reducing exposure.

Jim McLoughlin is the head of the Noise business unit at SVT Engineering Consultants.