When designing a new workspace or renovating an existing one, exposure to sound must be considered to keep employees healthy and the workplace productive. One of the easiest ways to do this is by taking the time to carefully plan the space and the appropriate sound-absorbing materials to get the best results.
Managing the Risk That Noise Brings.
Before any changes can be made to the workplace design, the first step must be the noise risk assessment and choosing a specialist company such as Nova Acoustics. This process will provide clear insight into the number of risks posed via noise and the number of people that will be adversely affected by each risk. Part of the assessment process gives a clear insight into the workplace and allows time for planning and zoning areas to reduce noise and separate employees from excessive noise wherever possible.
Key Consideration When Using Noise-Absorbing Materials.
Installing noise-absorbing materials is an effective way to reduce noise levels and manage sound in the workplace. However, these materials cannot be installed without careful planning.
Some of the key considerations include:
- Choosing the right material for the environment it will be placed in, i.e. healthcare and office settings, will have different needs.
- Installing noise-absorbers can affect the amount of natural light that comes into the workspace if it has not been planned for appropriately.
- If you are trying to reduce the noise path, then absorbers will not work because they are designed to work on the reverberant and reflected sound.
Reducing Noise With Barriers.
If the workplace is open-plan or has large spaces where teams work together, then noise levels may be too high to ensure a healthy environment. Rather than installing lots of small office spaces that reduce collaboration between teams, install movable barriers instead that are made from sound-absorbing materials.
There are a wide number of these products to choose from, with half and full height options. They should be installed where there is a noise source or where there are teams that you want to provide a quieter environment for. The best results come from wide and tall barriers, which have been installed in areas with high ceilings.
Adding Quiet Zones to the Plans.
If the workplace designs do not allow for effective noise-proofing, installing quiet zones may be the most practical solution. According to Office Inspiration, these areas can utilise appropriate soundproofing materials to keep external noises out.
These areas must be well-planned and a full part of the design so that the space is adequate for groups of employees to work in and welcoming enough to make them want to make use of the space provided. Plus, they will need to be well ventilated and offer an ergonomic environment conducive to productivity.
Put Space Between People and Noise.
Another effective way of managing noise in the workplace is to distance the employees and the noise source. This could mean using extending equipment so that machines can be placed further away. Or, you could invest in remote-controlled machinery to allow remote usage. Plus, if you have several particularly loud processes, why not isolate them so that they are only ever accessed by the people who need to use them, thus reducing the general exposure?
Invest in Hearing Protection.
Purchasing hearing protection is a good first step when the noise levels are high, but this is not just as simple as buying them and passing them around. If protectors are needed, then in the UK the Control of Noise Regulations at Work Regulations 2005 will provide insight into what actions need to be taken.
For example, there has to be a clear explanation of why hearing protection is needed, how and when it should be used, where to get new ones, and how to maintain them effectively. Planning these things out before issuing hearing protection is essential as it will provide the workforce with the information they need to be safe at work.
Reconsider the Machinery.
Machinery can be the biggest noise source in a workplace and may require consideration to ensure that your noise levels have been reduced properly. The great news is that there is a wide range of low noise machines and tools that can be purchased to reduce the impact. Not only can purchasing them result in less expenditure on soundproofing, but it can also be a highly effective noise-reducing method that provides a highly effective way of managing sound in the workplace.
Don’t Go Overboard!
Whilst reducing noise levels is an essential part of managing the workplace, reducing them too much can also be harmful. Too much reduction can impair people’s ability to know when there is a danger present and make people feel isolated even when there are others in the same vicinity. Plus, when the noise levels drop below 70 decibels, people may think it is safe to remove their hearing protection and end up damaging their hearing.
It’s clear that planning for noise is an essential step when managing the workplace and that there are a variety of factors that need to be considered at the planning phase so that the right balance is met every time.