August 16, 2016 / Chandran Achutan

A Course for Noise Control

Often, people say in jest that they are able to tune out noise. But noise means different things to different people, and whether it’s background noise or white noise, our response to noise is subjective.

When does noise become problematic in a work environment? Are employees able to hear their coworkers give instructions about how to operate certain machinery, or are they forced to yell to communicate effectively?

To control noise exposure you need to quantify it, which is why noise measurement is an important component of the hearing conservation program. And before you can control noise, you need to be able to define it. Best practices state that noise levels should not exceed 85 decibels over an 8-hour day using a 3 dB exchange rate. The OSHA standard uses a 5 dB exchange rate. OSHA has a permissible exposure level (PEL) of 90 dB and an action level of 85 dB (both values are 8-hour time-weighted averages), and understanding the different regulatory requirements and best practices can be confusing to a new practitioner. In addition, taking noise measurements is not always straightforward. The technician needs to know the correct equipment, how to use it properly, and how to design an effective sampling scheme.

Recognizing a need for noise exposure assessment in the workplace, the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC), along with additional subject matter experts, developed its Noise Measurement Course to provide a better understanding of noise exposure and how to address and lessen the risks of exposure for employees. While this course is not intended to make you an expert in acoustics or noise-control engineering, it will help you:

• understand the rationale and reasons why noise measurement is an important part of hearing conservation program (HCP) management and the critical importance of noise exposure information

• determine what kind of measurement equipment and measurement procedures are right for your project

• understand and differentiate between the various terms used to describe noise and noise exposure

• understand the expected accuracy of needed noise exposure measurement

• design and conduct noise exposure assessment projects and noise surveys

• understand basic approaches to noise control

Since AIHA is a component professional organization of CAOHC, the Noise Measurement Course is available to AIHA members at discount. The course includes access to all nine modules for six months, PDF versions of all PowerPoint presentations, module quizzes, and—upon successful completion of all quizzes—Continuing Education Units. If you are interested, please contact Marina Pappas or visit the CAOHC website for more information.

Chandran Achutan

Chandran Achutan, PhD, CIH, is the vice-chair of CAOHC and secretary of the AIHA Noise Committee. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health, and one of several AIHA members who contributed to the development of the Noise Measurement Course.​


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