We were tasked with carrying out Noise at Works surveys and assessments for two Police departments in the south-west. The Police HQs are home to the force’s Firearms Training Departments and Communication Suites.
It does not take an Acoustician to tell you that noise levels within the two working areas are at different ends of the spectrum; Firearms staff are exposed to high pressure noise levels comprising an array of different noise characteristics, whilst the Communications staff are exposed to noise levels at a lower overall level, but typically for longer durations. The two environments have the same importance to assess the level of noise staff are exposed to, to protect their hearing and health.
The surveys were undertaken to provide assessment and advice to control noise in relation to “The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005” (L108). Based on an employee’s daily or weekly Personal Noise Exposure Level, the Regulations set out thresholds of noise in which employers are required to take certain actions to reduce noise exposure levels – the ‘Exposure Action Levels’ which are separated in to a lower and upper threshold. It also states limits of which employees are not to be exposed to over their working day or week – the ‘Exposure Limit’.
Brüel & Kjaer Class 1 Sound Level meters were used alongside high-pressure microphones for the firing range, and a head and torso system for the Communications Suite. Thorough analysis of the A- and C- Weighted equivalent and C-Weighted peak noise levels was undertaken over octave band frequencies (Hz).
This allowed our assessment to robustly consider the single number rating (SNR) and the High/Medium/Low (H/M/L) requirements of a variety of hearing protection combinations for the Firearms Staff. We could also consider the impact of typical volumes that Communications Suite staff were listening to calls through headsets.
Firing Range staff are exposed to extreme high pressure noise levels over short bursts, with potential risks of blast trauma from peak noise levels. Communications Suite staff are exposed to noise levels that are typically longer in duration, with potential risks from acoustic shocks or distortion through headsets.
Many factors can play a part in how noise affects the end receiver (the staff). In the case of a firing range, reverberation time of the unit has a large impact upon how the noise moves around the internal space; a low reverberation time is preferable for firing ranges, reducing the reflections within the space. Considering the Communications Suite, the background sound level within the office space, along with the quality and style of the staff’s headsets play a key role in the volume levels that the user sets on their system, in turn potentially effecting the daily or weekly exposure they are exposed to.
The Police Departments followed the appropriate processes to ensure that their facilities operate safely and within workplace regulations. Studies have shown that noise at work not only has the potential to effect hearing quality and create tinnitus, but also effects motivation and productivity whilst potentially leading to stress, sleep loss and other health implications.
Please get in touch to see how we can assist with noise at work.