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Noise Exposure and Healthcare – Engineering

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QUESTION: 1

An engineer in an acoustics consulting company was tasked with the job of finding a solution for cutting down the noise at night among the patients in a typical Class 2B ward with six beds in the ward. The main intention was to allow patients to have good rest at night. The noise was in the form of moaning, coughing and snoring.

If you were the engineer, what were the potential solutions and factors for consideration in choosing the right solution if hard and permanent partitions were ruled out in the ward environment. Please state your potential solutions and justifications.

Here in this problem statement we have, assuming own as an acoustic engineer we have to perform an investigation to get a solution for the reduction of noise. The place we have taken into consideration for noise reduction is the hospital ward. The easiest way to reduce the noise for each patient is making permanent separation between the patients on the hospital ward floor. But in the problem statement it is given there are only six patients are there in that particular ward and we are not allowed to make any permanent wall/ barrier/ partition among these patients. Considering these typical parameters, we need to cancel the noise so that the entire patients can have a healthy environment in terms of sound.

For this issue we first need to know about the noise, what are the sources of the noise and then only we will be able to find any solution for them. The noise is basically some kind of unwanted sound those are completely offering a problematic situation among all the people near to that source. Regarding the technical parameter of the noise level we can say, according to the world health organization the permissible limit of sound in hospitals is 40dBA, but in most of the common hospitals the sound level is about 48 dBA. We just need to reduce this quantity so that we can make a healthy environment.

Sources of noise in a hospital ward,

There are basically two types of sources are there in a hospital, these are manmade sound and another one is the technical sound. Both of them are very common in every hospital ward but according to the problem statement we just need to consider the manmade sounds. Not only the manmade sounds are to be consider here, only the sounds generating by various natural phenomena of the patients are to be consider like Moaning, Coughing and Snoring as a noise. For various patients these kinds of noises are very much undesirable to sustain. The sources of the noise in a hospital sound shown in a table below,

Manmade noise Technical noise
Talking Patients Staffs and the visitors Medical equipments noise General equipments noise
It is due to the communication between the various stuffs in the hospital and the visitors in the hospital. It also includes the conversation among the nurses and doctors. There might be conversation between the different patients and some another sources are also,
Moaning, Coughing, Snoring, Laughing, clapping and all of these.
Some time we may also feel some kind of conversation between the nurses among them self and some it may came from the conversation of the visitors for those patients due to their conversation. There must be so many equipments are needed in medical ward, that equipment’s are the most common sources of noise. These noises can be reduced. Along with the medical equipments there are general equipment’s are there like fan, tube light choke, television, alarm, air condition, cooler and all.

 

As per the problem statement here we have to consider the noise of the patients for their moaning, coughing and snoring. Here we know the noises cannot be stopped completely because, it is not intentionally done by the patients. So here a s an engineer we need to find out the solution with the help of technology so that the amount of noise can be reduce to a high extend.

Possible Solutions for Noise Reduction:

Since, we are not allowed to incorporate any kind of permanent partition between the spaces of the patient beds. So except this possibility we are discussing the solution regarding this issue,

1. First possible way is to apply some kind of acoustic sound absorbing foam throughout the inner walls of that particular word. The reason behind it is to reduce the noise. A generating sound have some possibilities to collide to the walls and the equipments in the ward, so if we apply some kind of sound absorbing foam we can get a good result. In case of sound absorbing foam it allows sound to enter in it but do not allow to reflect the same intensity of sound to the listener. Because when the sound is entering at the foam it reduces the wavelength and makes the sound wave as a straight line.

The main reasons of such kind of foams are, they are soft material and they do not form a hard and rigid external surface on which the sound can reflect. Along with this the sound cannot make any vibration on them so at the time of entering into the surface it distorted. If we can see the surface of the sound absorbing foam surface it is an uneven surface for absorbing sound waves at any angle of incidence.

In case of such kind of material usage the maximum amount of sound can be absorbed, refracted and transmitted to the outside so we can get a healthy environment inside the ward of the hospital.

2. The second possible way is to make some kind of arrangements on the walls so that we can get a noise proof ward in the hospital. There we can make a two sided wall on which the inner side wall should have holes so that the sound wave generating in the wall can enter in between the space and can make resonance in the free space, with the help of such kind of attachment we can make a noise proof arrangement in the hospital ward.

3. There are also some possibilities are available like if we can use some sound absorbing material on the ceiling of the room then also the noise due to moaning, Coughing and snoring can be reduced by the absorbing nature of the padding. Another one option with the ceiling is the application of acoustic hangers. If we hang some fibre board panels accordingly to the below side of the ceiling, then a sound wave can be distorted between them and do not allow the wave to come back to the listener.

After using such kind of hanging curtains on the ceiling it will help a lot for noise absorption. If a sound wave enters between their gap, then it reflects in between the panels hanged on the ceiling and automatically the intensity decreases and do not heard by the listener.

4. One more technique can be used to separate different patients on this ward without any permanent partition. It is the air curtain; by installing air curtains on the ceiling of the ward we can make a virtual transparent barrier of air which has some constant flow rate and a constant velocity. It may be happening that it cannot reduce the sound ton 100% but most of the sound waves coming from one patient to another patient can be distorted by the high speed airflow or air curtain. Since, in most of the cases we use air curtain for heat, insect, dust proof application but we can use it also to make such kind of virtual barrier for this application.

5. Some another very common methods are using rubber padding on the floor, if rubber padding is not possible we can use normal carpets on the floor for producing a soft surface throughout the floor. We can also make the normal curtains on the windows with thicker cloths they have the ability to reduce the noise in the room or the hospital ward.

These are the very common and basic technique can be applied in a hospital bed at the time of sleep to get a healthy environment in terms of noise. If we can implement this all technique in a hospital ward surely we will get a satisfactory result on noise cancellation.

QUESTION: 2

A manufacturing plant has a 24-hours production line with a reasonably constant noise level of 83 dBA. The operators of the production line on an eight-hour shift do not wear any hearing protection. The manager intends to expand the operation and to bring in another production line in the same shop floor. He has two options. The first option is the same as the existing production line which will generate the same constant noise level of 83 dBA. A second option is a much more efficient production line but will generate a constant noise level of 89 dBA. If you were the manager for making the recommendation to the board of directors, what were the potential impact on noise level in the shop floor and the required mitigation measures for each choice.

According to the problem statement there is a production line in an industry having a constant noise of 83 dBA but as a production manager we need to enhance the production line for more production. As per the problem statement we have only two options in our hand one is to incorporate the same production unit with the noise level of 83 dBA in the same floor and another one is the incorporation of a more efficient production unit having a noise level of 89 dBA. As a production manager we have to study this whole thing to get a solution and to provide the solution to the board of directors of the industry. The condition is given as not a single worker using hearing protection arrangement. As per the problem statement we need to make the possible choices for the mitigation measures for this kind of choices considering the noise level of that particular floor.

As a production manager the main motive is to enhance the production at any cost. So here in this scenario the option will be taken is the 2nd one having more efficiency in production but also have a higher amount of noise 89 dBA. Instead of this it is the responsibility of the production manager to provide a healthy environment in the production floor for the workers. So for this purpose the 1st option with a noise level of 83 dBA is in choice, along with it also we need a higher production. So, a detail discussion and recommendation is provided in this part of the assignment to get a proper solution without affecting the health of the workers.

For the basis of reduction of the sound we have to make some arrangement to reduce the sound here on the above figure it is showing how we can control the noise. As per the hierarchy control diagram the 1st option is to make some arrangements for the worker’s personal use so that they do not need to feel the high intensity sound on the production unit. The second option is to make some arrangement to make a different way of working, like we can separate the machineries with the help of sound proof paneling and allow the workers to work with the machine in automatic mode and allow them to keep distance from the machineries. The third option is to isolating the workers from the noise hazard by making some partition in between the worker and the machine chain. The fourth option is to replacing the hazard of noise, but for this scenario it is impossible to substitute the machineries of the production line instead of which we are going to incorporate one more production line. The last most option is the elimination of the source of the noise and very frankly this kind of solution is not possible for this case.

After verification all these things and finding out some possibilities as a production manager the recommendations are stated below in the tabular form which can be submit to the board of directors of the industry,

Topics Recommendation
For better production throughout the industry As we are going forward to enhance the production of our plant we don’t need to compromise with the noise, we can go for the efficient option having a noise level of 89 dBA as output.
Future Still, if we don’t compromise with the noise and implement the efficient option for production enhancement then, as a long time effect we can face a huge problem regarding the health issue of the permanent workers and automatically the production will no more be enhanced.
Hearing protection As per the problem statement we have seen there all the workers are not using any hearing protection arrangement there may be some reasons but if we are looking for a enhancement of production without affecting the health of the workers we may arrange such kind or arrangements for hearing protecting usage.
Possible option for reducing noise ( for workers)

Since we are looking forward to installing the efficient option having more output in production as well as in noise, we can take some steps like isolating the entire system or machineries from the workers or we can isolate the workers from the machineries by constructing another monitoring and control room in the same floor.

Here we can see some arrangements for isolating the workers from the machineries, and a complete glass walling is there for better monitoring the production line and controlling them also from that individual enclosure.

Possible option for reducing noise ( for machineries)

There might be some kind of situation where some of the stuffs should present on the floor itself at this situation after enhancing the production line if we can make some arrangement like isolating the part of the production line by some enclosed unit and open them when needed.

Here we can see the entire machine is separated with the help of some enclosed cabinet just like any soundless diesel generator and the control panel is kept at the outside. This kind of technique may be followed for the healthy environment in the industries.

Permanent solution for reducing noise Here we can also follow some permanent solutions for reducing the noise level without affecting the production enhancement. In hard core industrial sectors due to heavy machineries the noise is very much high, for these cases we can implement some kind of damping arrangements on the footings and foundation of the machines to allow them a lesser amount of vibration. It can be a helpful way for permanently reducing the noise level. In this particular case we can male glass wool reinforced packing wall between two production lines for reduction of the noise. As a permanent solution we can use the rubber padding like neoprene rubbers on the footings and also we can use springs as a damper also for reducing vibration.

 

On the above table we have discussed all the possible ways so that we can make a huge enhancement of the production without compromising the noise level. Along with it we have recommend some of the technique so that we may not compromise the healthy environment as well. If we observe this whole thing we will be able to find out all the solution regarding the problem statement.

QUESTION: 4

The new Woodlands Health Campus currently under construction is directly opposite the Christchurch Secondary School and another Mosque along Woodlands Drive 17 as shown in Fig 1. The main construction site is surrounded by Woodlands Ave 12, SLE and Woodlands Drive 17. There is anothher construction project on the smaller piece of land between the Mosque and the School.

If you were the person in charge of making sure that all the regulations related to the construction of the new Woodlands Health Campus were complied, where were the special considerations and potential noise mitigation measures on site that you could implement?

Here in this part of the assignment the problem statement is given as the there is a main construction site just opposite of the Christ Church Secondary School and Masjid Yusof Isak (Mosque) and another two side is surrounded by two roadways named Woodlands Ave 12 in one side of the site and SLE on the another side of the construction side. Moreover, we can say generally the construction site has almost a triangular shape one side covered with school and mosque and another two sides are covered with roads as we can see clearly in the map. The actual construction site is also identified and marked as main construction side in the map. Along with this one small construction site also there just between the free space of the school and the mosque marked in the map.

The task we have given to make some kind of mitigation measures of the noise on the construction site and finding out the solution for the reduction of the noise in the construction site both in the main and the small construction site we have mentioned in the figure above.

For considering the various aspects of the noise on the construction site such that it will not hamper the general public health as well as one more thing is that at the time of construction we need to be very much careful the construction is going on. So after the construction work the entire buildings are to be noise proof from all aspects. First we are considering the noise due to the construction work and implementing some possibilities so that the noise can be reduced. The selection of the site is one of the most important things. Since, there are two sided roads for that reason we can see the school is far away from the roadways to reduce the noise at working hours. We have to complete all the tasks in between the guide line as in some of the places kind of rules are there like, no noise before 7 a.m and after 6 p.m in week days and in Sunday no noise before 9 a.m and after 6 p.m. So, according to the rules and regulation the noise level is to be maintaining so that the construction related activities may not hamper the safety regarding noise level.

Noise During Construction Work:

At any construction site there are so many equipment’s and power tools are used which are the basic sources of the noise in the locality. Since there might be a rule like we can work on the working hour from 7 a.m to 6 p.m but at this time also we should consider the school hour so that the general activity will not hamper in the schools. The noise sources are,

  1. Motor driven equipment noise.
  2. Some kind of horns and signaling devices are also used in larger construction sites these are also some sources of noise.
  3. For various power tools generating electricity with the help of generators are one of the most common reason of noise.
  4. Heavy vehicle sounds are also the sources of noise in a construction site.
  5. Pile drivers, mechanical hammers can also be considered as noise sources.
  6. Sometime the huge blowers, cutting tools and power tools are there in any construction side produce high pitch sound and that can be considered as one of the most important source of the noise.

A table is given in this part so that we can have an idea about the common instruments in construction work and their noise range.

Equipments Noise range
Roller 75-92 dBA
Truck 85-100 dBA
Bull dozer 85-100 dBA
Concrete mixing machine Less than 90 dBA
Crane arrangement 95-100 dBA
Generators Less than 90 dBA
Pneumatic breaker 90-120 dBA
Compressor Less than 90 dBA
Vibrator 85-100 dBA
Power saw 75-95 dBA
Power drill 95-115 dBA

 

The steps we can follow to reduce the noise for the stated problem statements are,

  • We can use some kind of quieter instruments for reduction of the noise.
  • We can modify the old existing machineries for reducing noise.
  • A complete partition can be created for noise reduction to the outer side of the construction site but that will not help the construction workers.
  • Regular maintenance is required for all the machineries for noise reduction on the construction site.
  • We can also schedule the working hour with the help of authority permission so that the timing of working may not hamper the general activity of people for noise.

Some of the technique are shown above can be implemented in the equipments we used in the construction work we are carrying out. Along with this all we can also make some kind of physical barrier around the compressor, we can cover the engine of the heavy vehicle with the help of soundproof heat transferrable padding, some kind of muffler and special silencer also can be used in various equipments.

On the context of work scheduling we can make a schedule of the working hours such that the noise generation can be minimize. If we schedule like at a time only two or three power tool will be engage in work in this time another worker can handle some jobs do not require power tools. Having this kind of scheduling we can also minimize the noise in a construction site.

A regular maintenance is also required for minimizing the noise level of the various heavy vehicles and the power tools. A regular oiling, greasing on the vehicle parts and machinery will make a lesser vibration as a result we can reduce the noise level at the construction so that any kind of hazardous situation will not occur on the working hour of the school.

Along with it if we consider something like, the construction is a health campus so we also need the noise reduction from the outside also after construction done. So we have to see whether the construction is making any kind of possibility of noise reduction from the outside noise due to the mosque and the noise of the vehicle on the Woodlands Ave 12 and SLE.

These are the basic requirements we need to follow at the time of noise reduction in construction site so that we can make a healthy environment in terms of noise.

QUESTION: 5

A machine has generated a constant noise level of 89 dBA at the neighboring test section. The manager wishes to cut down the noise to the neighboring section so that the works in the test section will have a much quieter environment of about 55 dBA for performing testing of components. he intends to shield the test section so that the persons working in the test session will not need to put on hearing protection.

A contractor has suggested a new acoustic panel as a partition and the table below shows the result of an actual sound transmission loss test. You are asked to evaluate the offer. You are required to show your steps for the computation and how you obtain the final answer of whether the suggestion would satisfy the requirement.

The STC reference table is appended below for your easy reference.

As per the problem statement given in this part of the assignment a machine is there, having a noise output is 89 dBA. It is very hectic to work in this amount of noise for the workers so the manager wants to make a shield room with the help of acoustic panel so that the environment in the test section becomes healthy for the workers. In this context a contractor providing some data as a need and choosing the correct option so that it meets the exact requirement.

The drop in the decibel (dBA) in terms of frequency response is given here, but without this also we can find out the actual solution so that we can choose a proper requirement.

Source sound pressure level = 89dBA
Actual sound pressure permissible at the test room = 55dBA
Total transmission loss = 89 – 55 = 34dBA

Now we need to calculate the coefficient of sound reduction, for this purpose we are using the formula, for 1000 Hz

Where,

C = The coefficient of sound reduction
d = Transmission loss in terms of dBA

If we need to calculate the decibel loss here we need a decibel loss of 34 dBA. So for this case we have calculated the noise reduction coefficient. To get the exact choice among some samples, we have calculated the NRC for different frequencies. Here the initial decibel is 89dBA and the final decibel is 55 dBA so in terms of absorption we have to use such kind of material which can make a reduction of 38.20 % we just need to find where we get the value of decibel reduction of 34 dBA so we need a NRC value of .3820

Sl no Frequency (Hz) Decibel loss (dBA) NRC (Noise reduction coefficient)
1 125 37 0.11
2 160 39 0.19
3 200 40 0.19
4 250 43 0.24
5 315 46 0.30
6 400 50 0.49
7 500 52 0.49
8 630 53 0.62
9 800 54 0.79
10 100 55 0.99
11 1250 56 1.19
12 1600 56 1.59
13 2000 57 1.99
14 2500 57 2.49
15 3150 57 3.14
16 4000 57 3.99

 

Now, here we have the table showing the different calculation results for the noise reduction coefficient. For the purpose we need a reduction of 34 dBA. According to the requirement the reduction is about a 38.20% of reduction. The noise reduction value implies, if the noise reduction coefficient is .30 or 30% then it can absorb 30% of the source decibel and rest amount will be reflected or refracted. If we reflect without refracting, then there is no issue at all. Since, the main motive is to make a sound proof testing room for a healthy environment for the workers. So from the above table we can say from serial no 6 to 16 all are the possible options for reducing the noise from 89 dBA to 55 dBA the reason behind it is to make a reduction more than 38.20 %.

By the help of this kind of computation method we can find out suitable option for the test room. Here our answer could be more specific if we get a certain value of the frequency of the machine generating noise.

Reference List

Minckley, B. B. (1968). A Study of Noise and its relationship to Patient discomfort in the Recovery Room. Nursing Research 17(3): 247-250.

Ali, S. A. (2008). Industrial Noise Levels and Annoyance in Egypt. Applied Acoustics, 72: 221-225.

Vermeer, W. P., and Passchier, W. F. (2000). Noise Exposure and Public Health. J. Environ. Health. Perspect, 108(s1): 123-131.

Lee, Y. and Chen, W. J. (2003). AUTEX Research Journal 3.

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