Workplace noise and vibration
Establishing the noise levels of machines and the vibration levels of equipment allows you to ensure proper protection for your employees
Workers who spend their days near noisy machinery, and labourers who use equipment that sends vibrations through their bodies can face serious health issues if their employers don’t take measures to prevent injury. Even for occasional visitors to environments with dangerous sound and vibration emissions, effective protection and prevention is essential to safeguard their health.
Dangers in the workplace
Ensuring workplace health and safety begins with understanding the dangers. Establishing the noise emission of machines and the vibration levels of equipment allows you to calculate the protection required and the maximum length of time before a person becomes overexposed. Measuring the emissions of equipment is one aspect, while the room acoustics of workplaces – how sound propagates and reverberates out from the equipment – is another important factor in the total exposure in different locations.
Limiting personnel exposure
Noise and vibration conditions typically change throughout the working day. Workers move into areas of varying sound, and use noisy or shaky equipment only some of the time. Because of these variations in the workplace, determining safe noise levels and appropriate protection for personnel can present difficulties. The total exposure is critical to preventing workplace diseases such as hearing damage, joint damage, muscle damage and ‘white fingers’.
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most prevailing occupational health concerns. Millions of workers are at risk – repeatedly exposed to high noise levels day after day, year after year. Harmful noise levels do not always cause pain, so there is often no immediate reaction or complaint from the workforce. However, once the damage is done, social and psychological impairment can lead to potentially massive expenses due to the loss of skilled labour, early retirement and worker compensation.
Hearing protection programmes have been implemented in most countries and are governed by national and international standards. Any such programme involves an assessment of noise exposure using hand-held sound level meters or personal noise dose meters.
Personal Noise Dose Meter Type 4448 is a shoulder-mounted, cable-free noise dose meter that accompanies workers throughout their workday, measuring and registering all noise exposure data. Two-button operation, informative LCD display and automatic calibration make it easy to master in just a few minutes. The rechargeable battery and memory provide capacity for several workdays’ worth of measurement.
Kits, containing up to ten dose meters, are available and come in a practical carrying case with enough room for all the included and optional accessories.
Human vibration is defined as the effect of mechanical vibration on the human body. The effect might be on the body as a whole or on parts of the body – of which the hands and arms are most frequently affected. Hand-held power tools such as chisels, drills and pressure hammers, expose the user to dangerous vibration. The most common source of whole-body vibration is travelling in vehicles.
Whole-body vibration is transmitted to the body as a whole, mainly through the supporting surface (that is, feet, buttocks, back, etc.). Prolonged exposure to whole-body vibration can either cause permanent physical damage or disturb the nervous system.
Hand-arm vibration is experienced through the hands and arms. Daily exposure to hand-arm vibration over a number of years can cause permanent physical damage, usually resulting in what is commonly known as ‘white-fingers syndrome’, or it can damage the joints and muscles of the wrist and/or elbow.
System suggestionHuman exposure to vibration can be evaluated through measurements of whole-body and hand-arm vibration using instruments that fulfil the requirements of established international standards. Human Vibration Meter Type 4447 is a portable system for measurement and evaluation of human vibration, designed for those who wish to monitor and reduce human exposure to the harmful influences of vibration. It comes with PC software for calculation of vibration exposure to check the action values and limit values of the European Commission’s Directive 2002/44/EC.
> Human Vibration (Primer)