OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 (a) – It’s a Noise Exposure Standard, Not Just a Confusing Number

Strings of numbers and characters can often appear daunting.  For instance, if I wrote in binary code it would be a string of ones and zeros.  (01000101 01101110 01100111 01101001 01101110 01100101 01100101 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01000001 01010111 01000101 01010011 01001111 01001101 01000101.) That can look like gibberish and cause concern if unknown or it can make sense to programmers and people familiar with binary code.

Other alphanumeric strings may cause some concern for industry professionals.  Take, for instance, OSHA standards. The OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.95 (a) may be unfamiliar to some, and thus concerning. Many Environmental Health and Safety Engineers will recognize this code.  It is an OSHA standard that revolves around the amount of time an employee is permitted to be exposed to specific sound levels. These sound levels are all based on the weighted sound level of the noise the operators are exposed to. To better understand how the octave and frequency of the sound play into this, there is a chart provided below.

Equivalent A-Weighted Sound Level Chart – (1)

The weighted sound level is the level at which a Digital Sound Level Meter will read the current level of noise within an environment. This scale is then used to move further into the OSHA directive that we focus on helping companies meet to best provide safe environments for their employees to work in.

If you notice, the lowest weighted sound level is 90 dBA, this is also the lowest-rated noise level that OSHA speaks of in 1910.95(b)(2). It has been shown that noise levels over this level for extended periods will result in permanent hearing loss. The standard then goes on to discuss the duration an employee can be exposed to noise levels even with the use of personal protective equipment as well as even impulsive or impact noise.  The table of permissible time limits is shown below.

Permissible Noise Exposures (2)

As you can see from the table above provided by OSHA, any noise level that an operator is exposed to for eight hours cannot exceed 90 dBA. Noises within an industrial environment can also be variable throughout the day. For instance, the operator stands outside of a sheet metal press and the concussive strike on the press gives off a 90 dBA strike for every stroke of the press. This would not be a continuous noise level. Maybe the operator is operating a CNC machine that is cutting a nest of parts and uses a handheld blowgun to remove debris and coolant from the parts before taking them from their fixture. This blowgun is not used continuously and therefore would not be rated as such for the exposure time. A time study would be conducted on the average length of time the operator is utilizing this gun along with the level of noise it produces during use. OSHA then gives a calculation to use to appropriately combine the sound level while the gun is being used and when it is not in use. That equation is written out below.

Mixed Environment Exposure Fraction
C1/T1+C2/T2+… = ____
Total Exposure Fraction
Cn/Tn = ____

Where:
C1 = Duration of time for a specified noise level
T1 = Total time of exposure permitted at that level
Cn = Total time of exposure at a specified noise level
Tn = Total exposure time permitted at that level

Should the summation of the fractions for different exposures be greater than the Total Exposure fraction, the summation value should be used. As mentioned above, a time study on exposure to noise levels will be needed to obtain the information needed for this type of study. Once the study is done the process can proceed to the next level within the OSHA standard which is a hearing conservation program.

I would like to interject a small side-step at this point. Rather than rolling straight into the implementation of PPE which is proven to be the lowest reliable factor of protection by the CDC and NIOSH. If any of these noise levels being generated are due to the use of compressed air points of use, EXAIR can potentially lower the noise of these point of use applications. In the events, open blowoffs or “band-aid” fixes are in place to keep processes running, and Engineered Solutions can easily be implemented that will reduce the noise level produced by this operation. Whether it is on the handheld Safety Air Gun in the hands of a CNC operator, or if it is a part/scrap ejector that is blowing the sheet metal press out after every strike, we have products that have proven time over time using an Engineered Solution will save air, reduce noise levels, and still get the job done.

If you would like to discuss OSHA directives revolving around compressed air, share with us a recent citation you received from an inspector for this standard, or just discuss compressed air usage in general, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

1 – Equivalent A-Weighted Sound Level Chart – Retrieved from OSHA.Gov – https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=9735&p_table=standards

2 – Permissible Noise Exposures – Retrieved from OSHA.Gov – https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_id=9735&p_table=standards

 

Understanding Noise: Sound Power Vs. Sound Pressure

Sound Power and Sound Pressure have been covered a few other times here on the EXAIR Blog. Once here by Brian who made the visual correlation in regards to a speaker and a musical instrument. And here by Russ who breaks down how you calculate sound power level with the below equation!
Sound Power Equation
too lou Sound Power Level Equation
All machines generate sound when they are in operation. The propagated sound waves cause small changes in the ambient air pressure while traveling. A sound source produces sound power and this generates a sound pressure fluctuation in the air. Sound power is the cause of this, whereas sound pressure is the effect. To put it more simply, what we hear is sound pressure, but this sound pressure is caused by the sound power of the emitting sound source. To make a comparison, imagine for example a simple light bulb. The bulb’s power wattage (in W) represents the sound power, whereas the bulb’s light intensity represents the sound pressure.
7179304430_8101287900_c
Light Bulb
Sound power does not generally depend on the environment. On the contrary, the sound pressure depends on the distance from the source and also on the acoustic environment where the sound wave is produced. In the case of indoor installations for example, sound pressure depends on the size of the room and on the sound absorption capacity of the surfaces. For instance, say the room walls don’t absorb all the sound but reflect parts of it, then the sound pressure will increase due to the so called reverberation effect. (reverberation time is broadly defined as the time it takes for the sound pressure to reduce by 60 dB after the sound emitting source has been shut off). OSHA puts the following limits on personnel exposure to certain noise levels:
Working in areas that exceed these levels will require hearing protection.
EXAIR’s line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered, designed, and manufactured with efficiency, safety, and noise reduction in mind.  If you’d like to talk about how we can help protect you and your folks’ hearing, call us. Jordan Shouse Application Engineer Send me an email Find us on the Web  Like us on Facebook Twitter: @EXAIR_JS Light Bulb image courtesy of  josh LightWork  Creative Commons License

Sound: What Is It … More Importantly, Weighted Scales of Frequencies

We’ve blogged about sound and what exactly it is before, see the link. Understanding that sound is vibration traveling through the air which it is utilizing as an elastic medium.  Well, rather than me continue to write this out, I found a great video to share that is written in song to better recap how sound is created.

Now that we have that recap and understand better what sound is let’s dig a little deeper to better understand why some sounds may appear louder to a person when they may not appear different on a sound scale that is shown by something like a Digital Sound Level Meter.

Loudness is how a person perceives sound and this is correlated to the sound pressure of the frequency of the sound in question.  The loudness is broken into three different weighing scales that are internationally standardized. Each of these scales, A, C, and Z apply a weight to different frequency levels.

  1. The most commonly observed scale here in the USA is the A scale. A is the OSHA selected scale for industrial environments and discriminates against low frequencies greatly.
  2. Z is the zero weighting scale to keep all frequencies equal, this scale was introduced in 2003 as the international standard.
  3. C scale does not attenuate these lower frequencies as they are carrying the ability to cause vibrations within structures or buildings and carry their own set of risks.

To further the explanation on the A-weighted scale, the range of frequencies correlates to the common human hearing spectrum which is 20 Hz to 20kHz. This is the range of frequencies that are most harmful to a person’s hearing and thus were adopted by OSHA. The OSHA standard, 29 CFR 191.95(a), that corresponds to noise level exposure permissible can be read about here on our blog as well.

When using a handy tool such as the Digital Sound Level Meter to measure sound levels you will select whether to use the dBA or dBC scale.  This is the decibel reading according to the scale selected. Again, for here in the USA you would want to focus your measurements on the dBA scale. It is suggested to use this tool at a 3′ distance or at the known distance an operator’s ears would be from the noise generation point.

Many of EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products have the ability to decrease sound levels in your plant. If you would like to discuss how to best reduce sound levels being produced within your facility, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

1 – Fun Science: Sound – @charlieissocoollike – https://youtu.be/xH8mT2IQz7Y

 

Limiting Noise Exposure with Mufflers for Compressed Air

Mufflers come in many shapes and sizes. Each with their own benefits.

If you have ever walked into a manufacturing facility and heard the hiss or even worse the banshee scream of compressed air being exhausted to ambient, whether it be from a cylinder discharge, a timed drain going off, or a bypass valve being activated, they all could be hushed with a muffler. A muffler for compressed air comes in several shapes and sizes. EXAIR offers four separate types from stock to help attenuate the noise disruption within your facility.

The OSHA standard for allowable noise exposure is 29 CFR-1910.95(a) and outlines the number of hours per day any individual can be exposed to a particular noise level. These noise levels are expressed in decibels (dbA).

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.
Reclassifying Mufflers attenuating the exhaust of a pneumatic cylinder.

The first type I would like to showcase are the Reclassifying Mufflers. These are ideal for cylinder exhausts or valves which commonly contain an oil mist within the air stream which can easily contaminate the surrounding area. The patented design of the removable element separates oil from the exhausted air so virtually no atomized oil is released into the environment. They also attenuate the exhaust noise level up to 35 decibels. The filter element helps the exhaust to meet the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1000, a worker’s cumulative exposure to oil mist must not exceed 5 mg/m³ by volume in any eight hour shift of a forty hour work week.

The chart below helps to properly size the Reclassifying Muffler for a pneumatic cylinder. One key to proper installation of these mufflers is they must be installed vertically in order to properly trap and drain the oil.

Reclassifying Muffler Quick Pick Chart
Sintered Bronze mufflers are excellent choices for tight installation locations and are easily sized.

The next type of muffler to discuss are the Sintered Bronze Mufflers that are offered in ten different sizes. These are an excellent low cost solution which easily install into new or existing ports. Each size is designed to provide minimal back pressure and restriction for the individual port size. The quick pick chart below helps to easily select the correct size for attenuating the exhaust of a pneumatic cylinder. One key difference between these and the Reclassifying Mufflers is, these do not have to be oriented vertically as they do not collect the oil out of the exhaust air.

undefined

The model 3913 – 3/4″ NPT Straight Through Muffler

If the process air needs to be directed or plumbed away from the operator then the Straight Through Mufflers are the ideal selection as they offer an NPT threaded inlet and exhaust. They are available in three standard NPT sizes from stock. These mufflers can be installed in any orientation and work well with our Vortex Tubes to help pass the cold air through while lowering the operating sound level of the tube. The average noise reduction of the Straight-Through Mufflers is 20 dB. This can easily reduce the noise level of an operation to below the OSHA standard requiring hearing protection for operators in the area.

The model 3903 Heavy Duty Muffler

The final option for mufflers from EXAIR are the Heavy Duty Mufflers. These are available in two sizes from stock and are constructed of corrosion-resistant aluminum with a stainless steel internal screen. These can be installed in any orientation and are ideal for protecting exhaust ports from contaminants that may clog or damage the device they are attached to. The typical noise reduction from installation is 14 dB with these mufflers.

These are available in two sizes from stock and are constructed of corrosion-resistant aluminum with a stainless steel internal screen. These can be installed in any orientation and are ideal for protecting exhaust ports from contaminants that may clog or damage the device they are attached to. The typical noise reduction from installation is 14 dB with these mufflers.

To summarize, EXAIR offers a multitude of options when it comes to lowering sound levels in operation areas that are caused by exhausted compressed air. Each of the mufflers discussed above are shipped same day from stock to meet your immediate need. If you are unsure of which muffler to use for your application, feel free to contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
Ph. 1-513-671-3322
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF