Noise isn't just distracting for workers; it can be hazardous to their health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in four cases of hearing loss are attributed to occupational noise exposure. Furthermore, about 8% of all workers suffer from some degree tinnitus, which is often caused by exposure to loud noise. You can protect your business's workers from conditions like hearing loss and tinnitus, however, by minimizing noise levels in the workplace.
Choose Quieter Equipment
Equipment, especially heavy-duty industrial machines, is often a leading source of loud noise in the workplace. Most machines produce at least some noise during operation, but their respective noise levels can vary. If your workplace currently has outdated equipment, it may produce a significant amount of noise. A simple solution is to replace the equipment with newer and quieter models. Doing so will require an investment, but it will pay off by protecting workers from occupational hearing loss.
Cover Floors in Carpet or Rugs
Another way to reduce noise levels in the workplace is to cover the floors in carpet or rugs. Many workplaces contain hard floors. Warehouses, for instance, often have concrete floors. While hard floors are easy to clean, they offer little protection against loud noise. They can actually amplify loud noises by echoing sound waves throughout the workplace. You can prevent this from happening by covering hard floors in carpet or rugs. The soft material will absorb sound waves so that they don't echo throughout your workplace.
Provide Workers With Noise Protection
While this won't necessarily reduce noise levels, you should provide workers with noise protection. There are two main types of products used for noise protection: earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones. Earplugs consist of small foam-like plugs that are placed inside the ears, whereas noise-cancelling headphones are worn over the ears. Noise-cancelling headphones offer the greatest protection against loud noise, making them preferable in otherwise loud workplaces.
Decorate With Plants
It may sound like an unusual solution for a noisy workplace, but decorating with plants can reduce noise levels. Plants act as barriers that disrupt sound waves. They'll absorb sound waves while creating quieter workplace in the process. Plants alone won't necessarily protect workers from occupational hearing loss, but you can still use them to create a quieter workplace.
Keep in mind that the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations (OSHA) has noise standards that employers must follow. Even if you follow the tips outlined here, you'll need to comply with OSHA's noise standards.