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How to Stop Noise Hurting your Employees

Four points to consider when ensuring a safe workplace It’s...

Four points to consider when ensuring a safe workplace

It’s common knowledge that a noisy manufacturing environment can be harmful to workers’ health and safety. In fact, exposure to noise levels of 90 decibels and above may even cause trauma and permanent hearing damage[1].

What might not be so obvious is that noise also impacts productivity on production floors and in offices. That means noise can affect the Health, Safety and Productivity of all your employees.

Noise is a significant hazard in factories, especially in the pulp and paper industry. Loud noises and exposure to high decibel sounds can create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication and concentration, and even contribute to workplace accidents and injuries.

Here are the four steps you should take to protect all your employees from the harmful effects of noise.


1) Be alert to signs of excessive noise

Some warning signs that your workplace may be too noisy are when employees:

  • Hear ringing or humming in their ears when they leave work.
  • Have to shout to be heard by a coworker an arm’s length away.
  • Experience temporary hearing loss when they leave work.


2) Meet noise exposure regulations

In the model WHS Regulations, the exposure standard for noise involves two measures:

  • LAeq,8h of 85 dB(A)
  • LC,peak of 140 dB(C)


LAeq,8h of 85 dB(A) means that over an eight-hour shift, a worker’s exposure cannot be more than 85 decibels. Exceeding the regulations depends on both noise level and exposure time.

LCpeak of 140 dB(C) means a worker’s exposure to noise cannot be above 140 decibels. Peak noise levels higher than this usually occur with impact or explosive sounds, such as sledge-hammering or a gunshot. Any exposure above this peak can create almost instant damage to hearing.


Table 1: Maximum Recommended Noise Dose Exposure Levels[1]

Noise Level (dBA) Maximum Exposure Time per 24 Hours
85 8 hours
88 4 hours
91 2 hours
94 1 hour
97 30 minutes
100 15 minutes
103 7.5 minutes
106 3.7 minutes
109 112 seconds
112 56 seconds
115 28 seconds
118 14 seconds
121 7 seconds
124 3 seconds
127 1 second
130-140 Less than 1 second


[1] credit


3) Assess the soundproofing and reverberation system for your factory

When planning the soundproofing for a factory, it’s important to know the standards associated with your industry. Alternatively, you can engage an industrial noise control expert like Flexshield to test, design, manufacture and install a noise control solution.

Know your machines. If you have a new facility and will be installing new machines, understand the noise they will make to try and design the best placement. Alternatively, to get it right first time, speak to an acoustic engineer such as AcousTech.

An acoustic engineer has the skillset to review an existing facility, perform modelling and recommend the best noise control solutions for your factory.  From there, an excellent industrial designer and manufacturer such as Flexshield has the knowhow to decipher the best solution.

Table 2: Common noise sources and their typical sound levels[1]

Typical sound level in dB Sound Source
140 Jet engine at 30m
130 Rivet hammer (pain occurs at this threshold)
120 Rock drill
110 Chainsaw
100 Sheet metal workshop
90 Lawnmower
85 Fron-end loader
80 Kerbside heavy traffic
70 Loud conversation
60 Normal conversation
40 Quiet radio music
30 Whispering
0 Hearing threshold


4) Don’t overlook office areas when improving employee productivity

Clearly office noise does not pose the same threat to workers’ health as industrial noise. However, if you have office-based employees working within an environment with excessively noisy equipment, there is the chance of a decrease in productivity and an increase in stress levels. This can easily lead to a rise in sick leave.

Studies show noise levels over 60 dB can reduce a person’s attention span. Given that a normal spoken conversation is 60 dB, and there are multiple people in an office, the combined noise level from general office discussions is distracting. The ideal productive working environment for an office is a noise level of 40-50 dB – substantially lower than 60 dB.


Custom-built acoustic rooms will help to limit the noise entering an office space from the factory floor. Combining an industrial solution with a commercial solution from Avenue Interior Systems will create an aesthetically pleasing, practical and more comfortable working environment for factory-based office employees.

For more information on how to stop noise hurting your employees, contact Flexshield today on 1300 799 969.