Acoustic consultants play an important role in the development and design of our living environment. Their services are needed in a wide range of business sectors ranging from entertainment venues including restaurants and cinemas as well to other structures that are used almost every day such as hospitals, schools, offices, and homes.
These consultants also provide their services in the design of road networks as well as airports. It would be wrong to assume that they only deal with sound levels as they play an important role in the engineering of sound at music venues and concert halls.
The need for regulating sound
It has been established that high noise levels in the workplace have a negative effect on hearing. However, when individuals are exposed to high noise levels for long periods of time at home or at the workplace, it can also affect their overall well-being and health.
The Impact on Hearing
Your inner ear is known as the cochlea and it has sensory cells. The role of these sensory cells is to convert sound vibrations into electrical signals which are sent to the auditory cortex and that is how you actually listen.
If these sensory cells in the inner part of the ear are destroyed or damaged, it may impair hearing and may cause hearing loss or tinnitus. Since hearing loss cannot be reversed, it is extremely important to completely prevent or limit exposure to damaging levels of noise.
Hearing damage can happen at any time and at any age. It is a misconception that lower decibel levels cannot cause hearing damage. You should know that exposure to lower decibel levels for long periods of time is as harmful as high noise levels.
Some studies have established that the effect of 85 dB sound levels (a common example would be loud motorway noise) for a time period of 8 hours is equivalent to 100 dB noise for 15 minutes. A loud motorcycle nearby or a jet flying overhead typically produces noise levels of 100 dB.
Hearing loss is often gradual due to the cumulative damage caused over the years. Most people don’t even realise that their hearing has been affected until it’s too late.
The Effect on Well-Being and Mental Health
Extremely high sound levels not only affect hearing but also have a negative impact on mental health. It may also cause several other physical problems. Some of these problems include stroke, cardiovascular disease, impaired immune system, and coronary heart disease.
High-stress levels and sleep disturbance may also cause psychological issues and mental anguish. The World Health Organisation has listed noise pollution as the second most polluting factor after air pollution. In short, excessive noise is a serious matter in today’s society.
It is especially relevant in the modern workplace today. As per the data shared by the HSE, more than 2 million workers in the UK have to work in extremely loud work environments. This is why it is important to optimise and control the auditory environment where we live and work, and this is why an acoustic consultant plays an important role when it comes to quality of life.
The Role of an Acoustic Consultant
The acoustic consultants specialise in the engineering branch dealing with sound and vibration. Their main job is to analyse, assess and control sound levels and make sure the sound levels remain within the guidelines issued by regulatory bodies. In the UK, these guidelines would be the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
These regulations have set up strict criteria for employers when it comes to sound levels at the workplace. The employers are required to carry out a risk assessment to determine the sound levels where positive action is required to save workers from excessive noise exposure. It is important for employers in many industries to comply with these noise regulations, especially the construction industry. Work with an acoustic consultancy and see how they are friendly by doing an inclusive approach at every step of your project’s journey.
Job Responsibilities of an Acoustic Consultant
The job of an acoustic consultant is to analyse, measure and quantify sound levels. Their job responsibilities typically include:
- A complete understanding of how sound levels are impacted by various environmental factors
- Being aware of the latest government and local guidelines related to noise levels and noise pollution
- Identification of the source producing high noise levels
- Use of advanced equipment to collect data on sound levels