If you are new to field measurement or looking to implement a noise control programme, you will need to differentiate between the instruments commonly-used for measuring noise before you start. If your business is based in the UK, EU and beyond, you are likely to operate within a compliance framework and occupational regulations that stipulate the use of an integrating sound level meter. Using the most appropriate meter for your application will make a difference in the accuracy and reliability of your measurements. Here we have put a quick summary that we think will be useful to help you decide whether an integrating sound level meter is right for your business.
What is an integrating sound level meter?
An integrating sound level meter determines the equivalent continuous sound level by dividing the ‘A’ weighted sound exposure by the duration of measurement (seconds, minutes, hours or over an entire shift). This averaged value is shown as the LAeq. Most meters nowadays will do this automatically for you as adding all the noise measurements together and dividing by the total would be quite a long process!
What’s special about it?
What differentiates this type of meter from other instruments such as a noise dosemeter is that it is used to measure machinery noise to establish mandatory or recommended PPE zones as well as averaging the sound exposure. Whoever takes the measurements with this meter will need to hold it at arm’s length close to both the worker and noise source in order to assess exposure. As such, an integrating sound level meter is best used if a worker spends most of his or her shift in one location. This instrument is extremely sophisticated and will come with dedicated reporting software. It is a step up from a basic sound level meter both in price and performance. We recommend that you go for the optimum solution and combine a hand-held integrating sound level meter with a personal noise exposure meter system to ensure compliance with the Regulations and cover all workplace noise assessment needs.
In this blog, we often refer to The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005) and noise exposure limits. If you abide by these standards, you will be familiar with the concept of noise exposure values as daily or weekly averages which can all be measured with an integrating sound level meter.
Capturing personal noise exposure
In a work environment with impulse, intermittent or variable noise levels, a basic sound level meter is of limited use to determine a worker’s average exposure to noise over an entire shift and, as such, identify any hearing damage. For this type of setting, a personal noise dosemeter is the solution. This device, which is normally worn on the shoulder, captures and stores the noise level and measures the total exposure of a person, integrated over a period of time. This is particularly useful in construction, demolition, warehousing or entertainment where noise varies in duration and intensity, and where workers move from location to location and perform a multitude of tasks.
Basic reading of the sound level
Lastly, for basic reading of the sound level, you can opt for a simple sound level meter or non-integrating sound level meter. This type of meter will give you a snapshot or instantaneous reading of the sound pressure level only at any one moment in time. An ‘A’ weighting filter is generally built in the meter and will provide measurements in dB(A). Such sound level meter is sufficient in situations where noise levels are continuous, for example during the testing of fire alarms. It is ideally suited to conduct a quick noise survey at selected locations throughout an entire plant to identify noisy areas. It is not suitable if you are looking to measure and obtain an accurate Leq value as required under occupational noise Regulations.
We hope this article has given you a good basic overview of the most commonly used instruments to measure noise at work. Look out for our next blog on why you should always use an acoustic calibrator when taking noise measurements.
Which of the type of meter discussed above do you use? Do you agree with our advice? Do share your comments via the box below.
This blog appeared first on Pulsar Instruments’ website on 14th September 2015.
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