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Noise in the Workplace
by: Chris Hampton
Machinery, people and the environment all contribute to noise in the workplace.
Machinery, such as copiers, printers, fax machines, fans, air conditioner, computers, phones and many other types of specialized equipment are a source of noise in the workplace.
People, added to the above by talking, typing, moving around and moving things around in doing their work are another cause of noise in the workplace.
The environment also contributes to the noise by reflecting and amplifying noise off of hard surfaces like walls, windows or ceilings. Vehicular traffic noise and other worksites nearby also add to the din.
Machinery noise is low frequency. Low frequency noise can cause reduced efficiency and even make us sick. Over time, it can do damage to internal organs, if the amplitude is high enough. Sometimes, noise problems in air conditioning or air conditioning ductwork can cause the sickness rate to soar.
People noise is usually a higher frequency. Depending on the volume and pitch, this can sometimes be extremely annoying. The louder others get, the louder we get - setting off an out of control spiral of noise.
Add to this the environment - box like walls, ceilings and windows. The sounds just get louder and louder by reflecting off the hard surfaces. This creates more sickness, annoyance and reduced efficiency.
Reduce or eliminate the noise, either at the source or after the fact.
It would be hard to eliminate people and still run a business. Usually, there is little we can do to reduce the noise that machines make.
There are many ways to accomplish noise reduction. The best, or course, is to build the structure with noise reduction in mind. Short of that, we can do a lot to make it better.
There are three major methods of sound reduction and control.
Masking is the use of sound to cover up the unwanted or annoying noise.
Absorption is the use of sound absorbing or sound energy conversion material to lessen noise.
Deflection is the use of sound reflective material to direct the excessive noise away.
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