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Exposure to loud noise in the workplace for long periods of time can have serious health implications on your hearing, but you may not know that this prolonged exposure can also have an affect on mental and physical health too?

A noisy workplace environment of around 85 decibels (dBA) where you must raise your voice to be heard by someone three feet away can damage your hearing after repeated exposures of eight hours or more.

At 95 dBA or more where you need to shout to be heard by someone at arm’s length – your hearing can be put at risk in less than an hour. Heavy plant machinery, chain saws, and other such equipment used in manufacturing, fabrication, welding and construction industries all operate around 95 dBA.

Here are some other factors to consider if you work in a noisy environment.

Stress and high blood pressure

In addition to damaging hearing, loud noise can cause other physical and psychological conditions including stress. Often the short-term effects of noise related stress go unnoticed or are blamed on other things.

Loud noise can influence the cardiovascular system, resulting in an increase in blood pressure and the release of catecholamines in the blood. An increased level of catecholamines in the blood is associated with stress.

Effect on pregnancy

Research suggests that an unborn child exposed to prolonged loud noise levels may influence the hearing of the child in later life with low frequencies having a greater potential for causing harm.

Accidents and injuries    

Other impacts of prolonged noise exposure on the health of a worker include reduced communication and concentration and a contribution to workplace accidents and injuries with difficulty in hearing warning signals.

However, noise exposure in the workplace can be reduced and occupational hearing loss entirely prevented with today’s hearing loss prevention strategies and technology such as Pambry Electronics Listen Ear™ – Personal Noise Dose Meter.

In summary it is very important for employers to carry out regular occupational health assessments for their workers with checks for symptoms over exposure to loud noise such as hearing loss and increased blood pressure.

Workers in the Construction Industry are surrounded by high-noise levels from heavy equipment.

Hearing Loss Facts

Research has shown that long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 dBA can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for noise induced hearing loss to occur.

Construction Site Hearing Loss and Health & Safety

  • Workers with hearing loss can potentially miss audible warning signals.
  • Hearing loss may lead to a breakdown in communication.
  • Increased effort to listen by hearing impaired workers may lead to fatigue, anxiety, and stress.
  • Workers may also suffer from tinnitus, causing them to hear ringing, rushing, or other noises even when there are no surrounding sounds

How to Protect Hearing and Prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss among construction site workers is preventable. Some important measures that can be taken include:

  • Wearing hearing protective devices such as earplugs, earmuffs or headsets and selecting the right device for your working environment is important.
  • Ensure you are wearing a hearing protective device that meets the proper SNR for the sound level measured in your work environment.
  • Choose a hearing protection solution that is unobtrusive and doesn’t restrict workers, like the Pambry Electronics Listen Ear™ – Personal Noise Dose Meter, so they will always keep it on in all high noise work environments.

UK based Pambry Electronics Ltd of Poole in Dorset have recently launched their new Personal Noise Dose Meter. It is believed to be the lowest priced Class 2 Noise Dose PME (personal monitoring equipment) in the world and is typically 30% to 50% of its nearest rival.

Expected markets are Health and Safety in, Construction, Mining, Manufacturing, Test Engineering, Club and Concert staff plus many others.

With a footprint smaller than a credit card and just 15mm thick (not including the clothing clip), the device has been designed on the back of years of Pambry Electronics’ military experience in microphones and electronics, and such issues as periodic calibration has been extended to more than a year. Also the environmental conditions in which the device can be used are much tougher.

The device part number PED 0828 (shown above with its optionally available external microphone) is unique as it not only includes all the usual features of its rivals’ product such as measurement of Noise Dose (8hr day), Noise Level, Data logging and download, etc but has inbuilt capability to monitor Ambient Temperature, Relative Humidity, Motion and Orientation.

A key new feature is the addition of device knock and vibration detection. This feature vastly improves the accuracy of the noise dose results and is subject to a PCT patent application.

The device comes in three standard colours, cream, grey or black. Special colours can be ordered subject to quantity.

Extracting the data recordings (datalog files) can either be via microUSB cable connection or bluetooth wireless to your smart phone or PC. The cable

connection is also used to recharge the device from any PC USB port or charger.

The battery life between charges is in excess of 4 working weeks and the device meets the criteria of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (UK) and international standards IEC 61672-1 and IEC 61252.

It is expected the device will appeal not just to the usual corporate users anxious to protect their employees but also individuals wishing to know if their hearing is under threat as the price is well within the reach of most individuals. The device can accommodate the use of earmuffs by selecting from the built in database or keying in the specified earmuff SNR value.

The external microphone is recommended for use when the weather conditions are poor and the user would prefer to place the main device somewhere like a coat pocket

The display is lit to allow ease of use in poorly illuminated situations, and displays selectable pages of information such current and projected Noise Dose, current and max Noise Level, graphical presentation of Noise level history (last 2hrs), current/min and max Temperature and Relative Humidity, Battery charge status, Noise data detail to current time, and further sub level settings pages to allow selection of the more complex features of the device.

There is also a warning light that flashes Amber when the Noise dose has reached 70% (of the safe level for 8hr day) and Red when 90% has been reached. It will also flash Blue when peak safe noise level of 120dBC has been exceeded. All level thresholds and weightings can be changed in these settings page too.

The data log recording files can be used to provide some clever analysis since all measurements including temperature, humidity, knock count, motion, etc are available against the built in real time clock.

If you are interested in one of these amazing devices contact:

Pambry Electronics Ltd.,
Ventura Place, Upton Ind. Estate,
Poole, Dorset BH16 5SW UK
Tel: +44 1 202 624910
www.pambry.co.uk