Interview with Nupur Patel: Noise Monitoring

What is noise monitoring?

A facility that generates a lot of noise can be harmful to the workers if they are exposed to the noise. At Emilcott, we are often called in to measure and monitor this noise to make sure it doesn’t exceed certain thresholds that could be harmful to workers. We use a sound level meter that measures sound levels in work areas, which allows us to map sound levels across a facility’s floor plan. We’ll also equip individual employees with dosimeters (used to measure noise exposure over a period of time – often 8 hours), and measure their personal exposure as they go about their day-to-day activities. This allows us to see exactly how much noise they exposed to under normal circumstances.

Why is it important to measure noise?

Over time, exposure to loud noises can cause irreversible damage to ones hearing. There are short-term and long-term effects when it comes to excessive noise exposure.

How long before effects take place?

Noise is interesting. For example, when we monitor airborne hazards (for example, chemical exposure), there are standard limits and amounts of time that people can safely be exposed. However, exposure to very high decibels (if you hear something really loud) can have an immediate effect on your hearing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be over a certain period of time.

Does this impact only workers, or are those in the area also affected?

We do noise monitoring mainly for the workers within the facility (OSHA only regulates worker safety), but noise does travel. Still, there is a drastic difference between a loud noise within the building, compared to when you’re across the street.

Does every site need noise monitoring or are you called in for specific noise issues?

If a facility has a reason to be concerned about noise exposure, then Emilcott is called in for a site walk-down. From this qualitative assessment, we are able to identify if they need some sort of monitoring.

Are some facilities noisier than others?

Noise exposure can occur on a variety of sites. We see the majority of noise surveys and noise dosimetry in manufacturing facilities, but construction sites have many sources for noise exposure as well.