Loud noises from machinery, tools and assembly processes are an inherent part of many industrial workplaces. However, neither the short- nor long-term consequences of prolonged noise exposure are something employees should accept.
As employees begin returning to work, maintaining a safe and socially distanced workplace is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. US Government and CDC guidelines advise employers to ensure workers maintain a 6-foot social distance at all times, and encourage changing workflows and shift patterns to ensure employees are able to remain as socially distanced as possible
The Orange County Sanitation District in Huntington Beach, California provides wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal services for approximately 2.6 million people. They had a combination of loud industrial equipment, cavernous space, and highly reflective surfaces creating an acoustic nightmare.
An estimated twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. For employers, worker exposure to damaging noise could result in catastrophic penalties and compensation for hearing loss disability.
Hearing loss isn’t the first injury that comes to mind when an arc fault occurs. The light and heat emitted by the massive electrical explosion – the arc flash – can cause life-threatening and life-altering burns to the skin, compression injuries and loss of limbs if workers are left unprotected.
If you hear someone say “noise monitoring,” what do you picture? If you are like most people, your mind probably goes first to settings with heavy equipment in use versus a more recreational environment, given the historical regulations necessitating hearing protection in those settings.
Industrial plants are known for being loud, acoustically-harsh environments. The combination of high ceilings, reflective surfaces and heavy machinery din creates an environment for reverberation and noise. Such conditions can decrease productivity and increase health and safety hazards.
Loud noises such as a backing semi-trailer or a fire alarm alert workers of impending danger. However, loud noises themselves can be dangerous, causing a host of immediate and long-term problems for employees and operations.