Loud equipment can contribute to both short-term and long-term hearing loss. Machine operators and others who work in manufacturing spaces need protection from noise in the workplace.
As a result, OSHA has published guidelines for how long an employee can work in a space with noise at specific decibel levels. For example, if the noise level is at 100 dB an employee should spend no more than 2 hours a day in that environment.
Manufacturers have two options for dealing with industrial noise. Either consistently rotate employees out of the space before they exceed noise exposure levels, or install industrial noise abatement products.
The first solution slows down production and reduces efficiency, while still exposing workers to potentially dangerous noise levels. That is why installing sound absorbing panels, industrial noise control curtains, or acoustic industrial baffles is the preferred solution.
Before installing an industrial noise control solution, take some readings of sound levels in the workspace. This data gives you an understanding of the noise levels and the type of noise you are dealing with. Using this information, you can determine the best type of sound blocking or absorbing products for your workspace.
Record the decibels and the frequencies of sound at various points throughout the workspace. You can rent a sound measuring device or load up an app on your phone to get the needed data. Document your findings in a diagram. Be sure to note the sound decibel reading and distance from the noise source.
As you see in our sketch sample on the right, we take measurements close to the noise source, far from the noise source and in the corners of the room, since the noise energy tends to travel into the corners.
To choose the best-fit noise control solution, answer the following questions about your workspace, machine, and processes.
Evaluate operating requirements:
After you have answered these questions, you can determine the dimensions and configuration of the enclosure. Sketch out a plan that includes the necessary openings for feeding materials, accessing controls, lighting, and maintaining the machine.
Keep in mind that it’s often easier and requires fewer building permits to install acoustic curtain panels vs building permanent walls. These panels are also easy to move and reconfigure as needs change.
Stationary or Retractable Acoustic Curtain Walls:
Industrial Noise Absorption Baffles:
Acoustic baffles are noise control panels that can absorb reflected noise and dampen echo. When choosing baffles for industrial spaces, ensure that the product is industrial grade and equipped with dampening materials that are at least 2 inches thick.
Additionally, consider the type of material that faces the noise source, as it will affect the baffle’s ability to diminish sound. Optimal choices include PVC coated mesh or acoustic fabrics. Make sure the baffle material has the ASTM E 84 Class A fire rating.
These best practices can help you achieve the greatest industrial noise control and offer the best possible work environment for operators:
You may not be able to incorporate all of these points for every project. In certain instances, compromises may need to be considered. For help finding the right industrial noise control solution, contact our sales team. They can provide expert guidance to determine the optimal approach for your project.