Why Everyday Noises Impact Lab Safety

We frequently point out the risks of a noisy lab environment. But workplace noise is only part of the exposure we all get daily. You see, we all encounter a variety of noise sources every day.

The total amount of noise you experience outside the lab on a given day will impact the amount your body can endure inside the lab. Thus, lab safety must take into account the bigger picture.

OSHA Guidelines and Lab Safety Parameters

As we’ve discussed before, OSHA recommends an exposure to noise safety levels of no more than 85 dBA during an eight-hour period. However, the recommended maximum exposure level limit drops exponentially as the noise volume increases. This means that lab safety parameters for a noise exposure level of 110 dBA would be only for a duration of one minute and 29 seconds. Obviously, noise exposure at such high levels, while rare in labs, cannot be a sustainable feature of any workplace.

Mounting dBA Exposure with Everyday Noises

To give you a sense of the scope of the issue, let’s consider what a morning routine for a worker might be like. They are awakened by an alarm clock (65-80 dBA), grind their morning coffee beans (70-80 dBA) and boil water in a whistling teakettle (80), then shower and blow-dry their hair (60-95) and/or use an electric razor (50-80). This means, before they’ve even left the house, they’ve been exposed to multiple minutes of noise that is near or above the OSHA recommendation.

When your employees leave the house, it just gets worse. Heavy traffic is rated at 85 dBA, while the subway is rated between 90-115. Encountering a jackhammer in road construction will expose them to 130 and the siren of a passing ambulance will add another 120. By the time they reach work, their ears, brain and heart have already been exposed to significant amounts of noise.

Here are some additional common noise levels that can impact employees in your lab:

Home
•       TV audio – 70
•       Garbage disposal – 70-95
•       Flush toilet – 75-85
•       Doorbell – 80
•       Food processor – 80-90
•       Blender – 80-90
•       Garbage disposal – 80-95
•       Baby crying – 110
Work
•       Quiet office, library – 40
•       Large office or lab – 50
•       power lawn mower–65-95
•       Manual tools – 80
•       Handsaw – 85
•       Jet plane (at ramp) – 120
•       Chainsaw – 125
•       Air raid siren – 130
Other
•       Noisy restaurant – 85
•       Shouted conversation – 90
•       Motorcycle – 95-100
•       Symphony concert – 110
•       Car horn – 110
•       Rock concert 110-120
•       Walkman/MP3 Player – 112
•       Football game – 117

Preventing Noise Level Overload in Your Lab

Obviously, with so much noise around us at all times, it’s critical for lab safety and employee health to minimize noise in your lab. This is why we have integrated multiple noise-reducing factors into our IonBench MS. Our vacuum pump enclosures guarantee a noise-reduction level of 15 dBA. Our dedicated lab furniture is vibration-free and our cooling fans are isolated and quiet.

If you’re ready to focus on lab safety and cut down on cumulative noise exposure, contact Tim Hawkins via email or at 1-888-669-1233 to learn more about our dedicated lab furniture.