Occupational Noise Measurements

OSHA 1910 and ISO 9612

In the United States, OSHA 1910.95 is used to determine occupational noise exposure. ISO9612 and the EU Noise Directive are used in Europe.

Noise exposure measurements in the United States are almost identical to those taken in Europe. The only significant changes were in indicators. As a result, it is critical to understand how exposure is determined as well as the limits it is compared to.

The most popular approach to assess noise is to take 8-hour measurements with wearable sound level meters called noise dosimeters. This way, the overall amount of sound exposure over 8 hours is obtained and transformed into a noise dose.

Noise

Exposure levels

The objective of noise exposure testing is to keep employees from suffering hearing damage. To make things easier, the noise exposure is shown as a decibel level extrapolated to 8 hours. The calculation is extrapolated if the measurement lasts less than 8 hours, e.g., 7 hours, and it is calculated as though it had lasted 8 hours.

Noise Dose

The noise does result is the percentage of a daily permissible limit for noise exposure, as defined. The OSHA standard 1910 specifies that noise dose is the indicator of 8-hour noise exposure and offers instructions on how to calculate it on a basis of sound level.

LEX 8h – Level of Exposure for 8 hours

The daily noise exposure level (LEX, 8h) has been established by ISO 1999 as the most important indicator of noise exposure in Europe. The LEX,8h – is an 8-hours extrapolation of LAeq measured over the working hours.

Noise Exposure Limits

Following OSHA 1910.95  standard, it is necessary to provide hearing protection for workers whenever noise exposures equal or exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average sound level (TWA) of 85 decibels measured on the A scale (slow response) or, equivalently, a dose of fifty percent. The OSHA 85 decibel limit is the EU Noise Directive’s upper action value, which set up limits for LEX, 8h:

87 dBA as the daily limit,

85 dBA as the upper action value,

and 80 dBA as the lower action value.

PEAK noise exposure limit

Additionally, the LCpeak should be measured which limits are accordingly 140, 137, and 135 decibels C, following the EU Noise Directive.

Sound level meter vs

Noise dosimeter

noise-dosimeter

Noise Dosimeter

Personal sound exposure meter integrated with the microphone, meeting specification of IEC61252, often called as “noise dose meter” or “noise dosimeter”

sound exposure meter

Class 1 Sound Level Meter

Sound level meters meeting requirements for Class 1 or Class 2 of IEC 61672-1. Class 1 are recommended especially in low temperatures or when noise is dominated by high frequencies.

supervisor software

Post-processing software

PC software for measurement data post-processing and reporting according to ISO 9612 procedures.

sound calibrator

Sound Calibrator

The sound calibrator meeting requirements of IEC 60942:2003, class 1, providing one or more frequencies within the rage of interest.

When should noise dosimeters or sound level meters be used to measure exposure?

A sound level meter such as SV 973 measures sound level at a single point in time, which is useful when sound is steady‑state with little variation in level. But when sound exposures vary in level and duration, it’s difficult to accurately estimate exposure using a sound level meter. A noise dosimeter such as SV 104A should be used instead.

Exposure monitoring with noise dosimeters

A noise dosimeter measures sound levels continuously over time and integrates them into a single value, the noise dose. A dosimeter provides a more accurate estimate of noise exposure when sound levels fluctuate and/or exposure durations vary, and can alert the user in real-time to the need for hearing protection based on the accumulated noise dose. Noise dosimeters are easy to operate and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Therefore, it is the preferred method following ISO 9612.

When should Class 1 Sound Level Meters be used?

The ISO 9612 recognizes handheld sound level meters as well as personal noise dosimeters. Noise dosimeter, meeting IS0 61721 and IEC 61672-1 standard, is the preferred device. In case of measurements in low temperatures or when noise is dominated by high frequencies, the class 1 instruments such as SV 971A are recommended. 

Noise dosimeters calibration and periodic verification

Noise dosimeters should be calibrated before and after each series of measurements. Additionally, they should be verified in the accredited laboratory at least once every 2 years.

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