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The threshold of pain, or the greatest sound pressure that can be perceived without pain, is approximately 10 million times greater than the threshold of hearing. It is, therefore, more convenient to use a relative (e.g., logarithmic) scale of sound pressure rather than an absolute scale (OTM/Driscoll).
An effective noise investigation begins before you arrive on site. First, conduct research based on type of industry to determine whether noise hazards are likely. If so, plan to conduct noise measurements and monitoring. Confirm that the instruments' annual calibrations are current (i.e., have not expired), ensure that the batteries are fresh, and calibrate the SLM and noise dosimeters before the opening conference. This will permit you to begin obtaining sound level measurements during your initial walkaround at the site. After these preparations, you will also be ready to start obtaining personal noise dosimetry samples early in the visit, providing an opportunity to collect samples of significant duration. The resulting noise dosimetry might not be full shift, but it will provide valuable information regarding worker noise exposure that first day on site.
Request copies of previous noise surveys or evaluations that included sound level measurements. Note noise levels that exceed the AL, along with the associated location, equipment, and activities. Inquire about the duration of exposure and determine which workers might be exposed to the noise by using the equation for calculating the TWA for the percent dose (see Appendix B). Look at noise dosimetry data to determine whether workers were exposed over the AL or the PEL. If the measurements are being used to show compliance, check that the equipment used to make the measurements was at least a Type 2 SLM (or dosimeter) with periodic and daily calibration fully documented.
Sound-absorbing materials are a valuable addition to acoustic enclosures and barriers, which can interrupt a noise path. Acoustic enclosures can be either full or partial and can surround either the noise source or the worker. A personnel enclosure works best if it is lined with sound-absorbing material. An alternative is an enclosure that surrounds a piece of equipment (a noise source), as pictured in Figure 36. Employers and workers should consider the risk of equipment overheating when surrounded by an acoustic enclosure.
Complete enclosures around noise sources are not always possible due to requirements to access maintenance panels and equipment controls, provide ventilation, or keep the process flowing. In these cases, a partial enclosure may still substantially reduce noise. Like full enclosures, partial enclosures should have effective barrier materials on the outside and should be lined with absorptive materials on the inside. Because noise will escape through the opening, the noise path should be treated with sound-absorbing materials if possible. Also, the number of openings should be limited and should be directed away from workers, if possible. Figure 39 shows a partial enclosure that allows access while affording the operator some protection from the noise source.
Noise dosimeter: A type of sound level meter that measures and integrates noise over time providing a value of the average dose. This instrument can calculate the daily noise dose based on a full workshift of measurements, or a dose from a shorter sample. The operator can select different noise dose criteria, exchange rates, and thresholds. 1e1e36bf2d