‘We expect that noise levels also relate to workers’ performance and overall productivity’
Researchers from Concordia University in Montreal are proposing a new framework to predict noise levels in modular construction factories and workplaces using probability-based modelling and acoustic condition simulations.
The proposal is geared towards improving health and safety conditions in workplaces.
“Many companies just focus on improved productivity when they move their tools and machines indoors,” said Sang Hyeok Han, an assistant professor in the university’s department of building, civil and environmental engineering. “But in this study, we are showing companies that they should also consider mitigating noise exposure to their workers.”
To measure workers’ noise exposure, the researchers used sound level metres to measure decibel levels at a modular factory in Edmonton over a period of 13 days. The noise came from typical construction factory equipment such as air compressors, cutting machines and conveyors and other work on site, including hammering and nailing.
With statistical modelling and geometrical acoustical simulations, the researchers calculated and assessed overall noise levels and generated a noise map. They then compared the noise exposure levels to the existing provincial and federal guidelines to evaluate the noise risk on factory workers.
Citing statistics from other studies, the researchers noted that 43 per cent of Canadian workers have been in noisy workplaces and 56 per cent were vulnerable to workplace noise.
“Noise study is only used on the safety side now, but we expect that noise levels also relate to workers’ performance and overall productivity at the plant,” said Han. “By optimizing the factory’s layout based on noise information, a company can reduce noise exposure to workers without sacrificing productivity.”