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Unitron Hear Life - November 2023

Altering Noise Sources to Protect Construction Workers

Richard Neitzel, MS, PhD

November 17, 2008

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Question

What is the best way to alter the source of noise in the construction industry in order to effectively protect workers?

Answer

Due to the dynamic nature of construction and the complexity of construction work sites, this can be difficult. Distancing the source of the noise will often be the best option. For example, the chop saw is an extremely loud construction tool that can expose the entire work site to high noise levels. If this tool can be distanced from workers, there is an immediate removal of these noise levels for the vast majority of workers on the site. Some construction contractors therefore have built saw shops. A saw shop is a small building outside the main construction project where the chop saws and cutting work are kept. This removes these high noise levels from most workers, and those using the chop saws can be educated and trained to use effective hearing protection. Distance can reduce exposure dramatically on work sites and therefore be very effective. It is also very low cost and may be easy to implement for employers. Of course, distance is only one way to implement noise controls and should be used as part of a comprehensive hearing conservation program tailored to the unique needs of the construction industry, and one that also includes other noise controls, improved worker training, and proper use of hearing protection devices.

Rick Neitzel is a Research Scientist in the University of Washington (UW) Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and a Certified Industrial Hygienist. He is also a Candidate in the Environmental and Occupational Hygiene PhD program at UW. He is President-Elect of the National Hearing Conservation Association, having previously served as Director of Communications and Treasurer, and sits on the Noise Committee of the American Industrial Hygiene Association. His research interests include quantitative and subjective exposure assessment in industrial and non-occupational settings, as well as development and evaluation of effective occupational health interventions.

This Ask the Expert was created from information presented in the course, Construction Noise: How Bad Is It and What Can Be Done About It? by Rick Neitzel, published on 6/19/08. The recorded course can be viewed here: audiologyonline.com/ceus/recordedcoursedetails.asp?class_id=11395.


richard neitzel

Richard Neitzel, MS, PhD

Assistant Professor

Rick Neitzel is an Assistant Professor in the Risk Science Center within the University of Michigan's Department of Environmental Health Sciences.  He has a PhD in Environmental and Occupational Hygiene from the University of Washington in 2009, and is a Certified Industrial Hygienist.  He has been conducting research on noise and hearing loss since 1997.  His current research interests include exposure assessment for noise and other hazards in occupational and non-occupational settings and development and evaluation of effective occupational and public health interventions. Rick Neitzel has no financial or non-financial relationships to disclose.


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