Controlling Exposure to Noise at Work with Personal Noise Dosimeters

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Courtesy of Pulsar Instruments plc

Which method is best to monitor noise: sound level meter or noise dosimeter?

Controlling exposure to noise at work with noise dosimeters

Our work environment has been transformed since the 1970’s with the introduction of new machinery and technical equipment designed to improve and increase general productivity. This has revolutionalised the way we operate during a typical working day creating employees that are now more mobile. This is particularly true of production lines in the automobile industry and construction workers operating multiple tasks in different areas at short notice. The single work station is a thing of the past and the variation in individual noise exposure follows these work pattern changes.

Traditionally, sound level meters allow health and safety professionals to measure accurately thenoise level exposure by following staff as they work and, by repeating the process over a day, to obtain an average of the exposure. Noise dosimeters or personal sound exposure meters (PSEM), which are mostly worn on the body such as, for example, on the shoulder, and left to operate for an 8 hour shift, have an important role to play in calculating daily complex noise exposure levels in various situations, especially where workers are operating in difficult to reach situations.

Which method is best to monitor noise: Sound level meter or noise dosimeter?

Sound level meter method

sound level meter, also known as noise meter or decibel meter, is a hand-held device that is used by safety professionals to take measurements by standing close to the source of noise and by pointing the meter close to the employee’s ear (10-15 cm approx). A typical example of industrial noise measurement made by using a Pulsar sound level meter is shown in the picture on the right.

Sound level meters are used to meet compliance with Noise at Work regulations (2005) in the UK as well as other Health and Safety regulations such as OSHA or the EU Directive 2003/10/EC.  It is paramount that safety professionals use a compliant sound level meter to make any workplace measurements in order for their noise assessments to be valid and protect the business against costly future claims. Compliant Sound Level meters conform with IEC 61672-1, the international standard that completely specifies their performance. It is worth noting that a number of very low cost sound meters on the market at present cannot possibly meet this standard and are still allowed to imply compliance in many countries around the world. Buyers beware!

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