What is a Decibel Level?

Decibel level also known as dBA, is how the industry measures sound intensity’s effect on the human ear and is an important value when discussing noise exposure for employees and operators within manufacturing. Manufacturing personnel can be at risk for hearing damage when exposed to high decibel levels if the proper precautions are not taken. For reference, 0 dBA is the softest level that a person can hear. Normal speaking voices are around 65 dBA. A rock concert can be about 120 dBA.

Sounds that are 85 dBA or above can permanently damage your ears. The more sound pressure a sound has, the less time it takes to cause damage. This damage occurs within a sensitive part of our ear called the cochlea, which contain thousands of hair cells used to allow our brains to detect sounds. For example, a sound at 85 dBA may take as long at 8 hours to cause permanent damage, while a sound at 100 dBA can start damaging hair cells after only 30 minutes of listening.

OSHA Max Noise Exposure Chart

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Whether you work near machinery, at a sports venue, on a tarmac, or operate a jackhammer—hearing loss is preventable.

Noise may be a problem in your workplace if you:

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

If you need to raise your voice to speak to someone 3 feet away, noise levels might be over 85 decibels. Sound-measuring instruments are available to measure the noise levels in a workspace.

The first step to lowering your sound level is to take a baseline reading of your various processes and devices that are causing the noise. EXAIR’s Sound Level Meter, Model 9104, is an easy to use instrument that provides a digital readout of the sound level. They come with an NIST traceable calibration certificate and will allow you to determine what processes and areas are causing the most trouble.

From there, EXAIR has a wide range of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® that are designed to reduce compressed air consumption as well as sound levels. For noisy blowoffs where you’re currently using an open-ended pipe or a loud commercial air nozzle, EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles are the ideal solution. Not only can they pay for themselves over a short period of time time due to compressed air savings, but your operators will thank you when they’re able to hear later on in life!

 EXAIR has the tools you need to reduce sound level in your processes. If you’d like to talk to an Application Engineer about any applications that you feel could benefit from a sound reduction, give us a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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