High Level Noise

High Level Noise and The Effect It Had On Me

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High Level Noise and The Effect It Had On Me was the reason and  cause for the mood swings I was feeling. Ever think to yourself while at work, “Why am I in such a bad mood? I wasn’t when I showed up. But I sure am now”.  

To answer that I’ll ask one more question. Are you wearing your ear plugs? Because I’m going to tell you about High Level Noise and The Effect It Had On Me and on our frail bodies and the inner systems that run it, not just our hearing.   Today on site I had to move my First Aid room due to seismic upgrading that was commissioned. Iron workers were installing rectangular prefabbed metal frames inside a concrete boxed area in the ceiling which supported skylights.  They would use a material lift, hand crank them into place and then using a hammer drill with a hollowed bit and a HEPA vacuums proceed to drill out the holes. As a construction safety professional, I absolutely loved the procedure for the removal of the silica waste. As we all know silica is a very dangerous substance that is as common in the workplace as Hard Hats and Work Boots. However, another hazard was very present. The noise.  

The Work Environment 

The building we are in was built-in 1965 hence the seismic upgrading. It’s a concrete drum that does not allow the noise to escape. In fact, the noise of the hammer drill echoed increasing the problem.  A normal noise rating would be 96 decibels. Inside this structure, I would rank it upwards of 105 to 110 decibels. It didn’t stop there. Anchor bolts had to be installed using an impact gun. Again, with the drum effect of an enclosed concrete room, 105 plus decibels. Now I’m going to point out that we all had our hearing protection on, but the effect of noise doesn’t stop at the hazard of hearing damage. In this situation, I could feel the noise in my body. Every impact of the hammer, the vibration waves through the air hitting me as I was only 30 feet away setting up my new First Aid room in an area that was steel studded, but not dry-walled was overwhelming.  

Two hours in and I’m feeling my mood change in a very noticeable way. I’m getting angry and my temper is increasing with feeling of being frustrated and stressed. This vibration and high decibel levels of the noise is creating a very negative effect on me. While doing the finishing touches on my F.A. room I sternly requested a 15-minute shut down and yes, I explained my reasons why.    

Effects as a Youth

Now when I was a teenager and into my early twenties I loved a good rock concert. I’ve seen The Who, The Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Kiss, the list goes on and on and now I finally understand why at the end of the night our attitudes were that of an out of control rebel. It wasn’t the light show, or the style of music, nor was it the words in the songs that so many would have us believe were those of a nature of evil and devils music. It was the vibration and high decibel of sound. A good rock concert was well over 100 decibels, and what about a bar or nightclub.

During that 15-minute shut down, the quietness was almost louder than the noise. I could feel a draining of negative emotions and frustrations like a tap was opened and the flowing out effect was very comforting.  I had to ask myself “How in the hell do these guys do it”? Iron workers are a breed unto themselves.  A special type of worker who I could only surmise must have grown accustomed to the effects of the trade. Yet that would only be a false statement as like every other hazard that doesn’t injure immediately, the long-term effect could be catastrophic. The only way I can see to protect our workers is a reduction in the noise levels.

What Can Be Done 

So how can we do this? I am not an engineer, however time and again we have seen in buildings a way of diminishing the noise levels by hanging artistic devices that stop the echo effects. Designed to ‘Absorb and Dampen’ noise in buildings these are  made of thick materials. So how about clamping porous rubber or thick foam fabric to the medal that’s being impacted into place. As far as the actual guns and drills go, maybe increasing the dimensions of the casing and installing the same type of product but still allowing it to breath so heat build up isn’t an issue. Again, I am not an engineer, just spit balling an idea. But there must be a way. Our emotional statues, health, and very lives depend on it.

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Posted in Construction Safety.


View posts by mikew@freebirdsafetyservices.ca

With several years in Construction, a vast amount in Masonry, when I turned 40 it was time for a change. Occupational Health and Safety was a calling I wish I discovered when I was younger. With over 30 years experience now in the trades, I have a knowledge base I wish to pass on.

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