Lab Safety: Noise Reduction Checklist

lab-safety-noise-reduction-checklistNoise is everywhere in our modern, industrialized world. From ambulance sirens in the night to the music coming from our personal headsets, our ears are assaulted every hour of the day and night. And the impact is real: The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has estimated that about 15 percent of working-age Americans have developed high-frequency hearing loss because of noise exposure at work or during leisure activities.

These facts stress the importance of lab safety rules. Every research facility must include noise reduction efforts. To help, we’re providing you a noise reduction checklist to prevent hearing loss and noise-related health issues from occurring in your lab.

Noise Reduction Checklist

Here are some simple steps to take to ensure the best possible work environment in your laboratory by keeping noise in check.

  • Make sure any controlled-temperature room compressor is moved to a remote location. Work with your maintenance supervisor to figure out the most practical way of keeping any compressors away from the sensitive ears of your staff.
  • Remove noise-producing equipment from your research lab whenever possible. Set up a storage room nearby and keep your freezers, refrigerators, centrifuges, and incubators there. This will separate the active research space from a main source of noisy equipment. Researchers can easily step into that storage room, grab what they need (or load up the centrifuge), then move back to the main lab.
  • Obviously, there are some machines that must stay in the research lab itself. Mass spectrometers, for example, can’t be efficiently used if they’re completely isolated. This is where our dedicated lab furniture comes in. Our IonBench MS features an integrated vacuum-pump noise enclosure that guarantees noise suppression of 75 percent, which goes a long way toward keeping your ears safe as you work in your lab.
  • Treat your lab walls and ceiling to a makeover with acoustic tiles. These will help absorb the sound being generated in your lab rather than bouncing it back into the room. There are many different types of sound-absorbing materials now available on the market, so invite in an expert to help determine the best solution for your lab situation.
  • Provide lab-safety-rated earplugs or earmuffs for everyone who works in your lab, especially in labs that are unusually noisy.
  • Don’t forget to create and post a lab safety noise policy that informs workers of the steps you are taking and clearly outlines required actions they must take to reduce noise levels in the lab (shut the noise-baffling doors to your dedicated lab furniture, for example).

Lab Safety Noise Issues Are Not Just About Hearing Loss

It’s also important to remember that noise has a greater impact on lab workers’ health than simply contributing to hearing loss. According to OSHA, lab noise usually isn’t loud enough to permanently harm one’s hearing. However, the noise level in a lab can easily make it more difficult for colleagues to hear one another, whether they are talking in person or on the phone. This increases the possibility of misunderstandings, which can lead to errors in lab protocol and possibly even accidents or injuries.

Additional problems that can impact researchers and lab techs as a result of prolonged exposure to excessive lab noise include stress and anxiety, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), hypertension (high blood pressure), gastrointestinal problems, and even chronic fatigue.

These health hazards not only threaten the well-being of your staff, but also can potentially reduce productivity. As a result, secondary lab safety issues, such as inattention and carelessness due to tiredness or distraction, can also become a danger.

Find Out More

Whether you’re building a lab from scratch, undertaking a renovation, or simply taking steps to address lab safety issues, IonBench dedicated lab furniture helps keep the results flowing and the ears of your staff safe from harm. Contact us today to find out how IonBench can improve the efficiency of your lab and the safety of your employees.