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Industrial Hygiene in the Brewery World- Hazardous Noise Case Study

Industrial Hygiene Case Study:  Noise Exposure Evaluation

Noise is a pervasive problem in the workplace. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to damaging noise levels each year. Last year, businesses paid OSHA more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise. This number does not account for any potential employee claims or the quality of the work environment that employees are subjected to. Our health and safety experts ensure our clients avoid penalties and keep employees safe and happy in the workplace.

A brewery with large vats of beer.

A local brewery recently turned to us with healthy and safety concerns about the potential for its employees to be exposed to hazardous noise levels during manufacturing processes. G2 Consultants performed personal noise dosimetry and area noise mapping analyses that identified personal noise exposure above the OSHA Action Level for several employees.

We developed a corrective action plan that includes ongoing training and testing to ensure employees understand the hazards associated with occupations noise and receive adequate protection.

Dangers of Excessive Noise Levels

It is important to test noise levels and detect danger early because noise-induced hearing loss tends to occur over a long period of time and shows no visible effects. Sufferers experience no pain, except in the rarest cases.

Symptoms include:

  • Growing inability to communicate and respond properly in the work environment
  • Inability to understand speech
  • Inability to hear sounds in general

 

Dangerous noise levels also produce psychological ailments in employees such as:

  • Sense of isolation
  • Annoyance and low morale
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep interference, stress, and fatigue

 

G2 Noise Level Safety Analyses

For our brewery client, we performed noise level safety analyses to determine whether employees were exposed to hazardous noise levels during the brewery’s beer making, packaging and maintenance activities.

We implemented personal noise monitoring through dosimetry on five brewery employees. A dosimeter device intermittently collects noise level readings from a small microphone attached to a person’s collar, as close to their ear as possible. It provides the average noise exposure to the employee during a standard work shift.

The bottling process of a brewery.

We also collected direct-read noise measurements with a sound level meter to identify noise levels created by various operations and equipment. A sound level meter provides an immediate read on the current noise level in the workplace.

Our findings indicated several brewery employees were over the OSHA Action Level for occupational noise.

G2 Offers Workplace Safety Solutions

We directly addressed our client’s noise level challenges by providing guidance and assistance with creating a Hearing Conservation Plan that includes:

  • Thorough audiometric testing at regularly scheduled intervals and additional testing any time a change is made in processes that affects noise levels
  • Instructing and training supervisors and employees on proper hearing protection measures and the hazards of occupational noise
  • Maintaining proper record keeping practices

 

Additionally, a number of regulatory requirements are in place to direct employers if noise monitoring indicates employees are exposed to noise at or above the OSHA Action Level. Many noise level issues can be mitigated by reducing hazards through noise dampening and isolation efforts. These include:

  • The use of personal protective equipment such as earplugs
  • Eliminating loud equipment or substituting it with quieter equipment
  • Redesigning equipment to eliminate noise sources
  • Constructing barriers to prevent noise from reaching workers

 

Going Forward

G2’s industrial hygienists set the brewery on a path toward greater employee safety. We assessed the potential for harm and developed a plan for remediation that continues to support the company in its commitment to workplace health and safety.

G2 is your “Go To” company to help with all your workplace health and safety concerns. We help businesses navigate complicated regulatory compliance issues with OSHA, MSHA, and the U.S. EPA. Contact us today to become a health and safety leader by utilizing the industrial hygiene expertise of G2 Consultants, Inc.

 

Sources cited:
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/reducenoiseexposure/noisecontrols.html