Can noise affect workers’ productivity and accuracy?

Loud noise levels in the offshore oil industry torment workers with hearing damage and tinnitus.

Many workplaces have noise levels that are too loud for the human ear. In the long term, a loud working environment can consequently be damaging to your hearing health, therefore it affects workers’ productivity and accuracy.

Offshore oil rigs and platforms are examples of such noisy workplaces. In 2001, more than 800 workers in Norway reported hearing damage or tinnitus as a result of their line of work.

A study from 2009-2011 by PSA, the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway, shows that 37% of workers in offshore oil productions are affected by damage to their hearing.

The importance of prevention

The National Association of Hearing Impaired in Norway, HLF, underlines the importance of hearing damage prevention and suggests lowering the noise level through usage of acoustic enclosures and silencers.

Organizations need to carefully think about the design of their workplace and how to manage noise levels. The negative effects of noise on employees can have financial impacts comparable with the positive impact of investing in acoustic improvements. Therefore, it makes good business sense to invest.

The impact of noise on performance

The British Journal of Psychology published a study that asked workers to perform two tasks, firstly tested without noise and then with a recording of general noise. The test with noise showed a decrease in the accuracy of their work by almost 67%. This test was made introducing noise at levels there are very low compared to offshore plants’ noise, it’s logic to predict that this percentage would increase when speaking of high-noise environments such as power generation plant or offshore platform.

Noise is very stressful and it can leave workers physically and mentally shaken. Prolonged exposure to loud noises can trigger physiologic stress responses in our bodies, including high blood pressure and an increased heart rate.

Studies show that workers are almost 65% less productive in a noisy work environment than employees who work in much quieter workplaces.

Moreover, HLF underlines that a person with reduced hearing is more likely to become physically exhausted at the end of a workday.

Acoustic solutions to mitigate noise

Stopson Italiana has been present for decades in the world market of soundproofing as one of the leading producers of acoustic enclosure, control cabins, and silencers.

Soundproofing solutions reduce noise pollution due to various sources and efficiently respond to any client’s needs.

    Absorptive for cold and hot gases, reactive for engines or small boilers exhaust, combined absorptive and reactive for venting systems. Circular or rectangular shape, atmospheric or pressurized for any gas, temperature range, and applications, providing sound attenuation up to 70 dB and reduce residual noise to a sustainable level.
    Shaped around noisy equipment, indoor or outdoor, on-base or off-base, designed to provide optimum noise attenuation in any critical environment. Made of modular acoustic panels and linings for sound isolation while ensuring equipment maintenance, ventilation, weather protection, and fire safety.

On-Site tests to make facilities/plants compliant

Together with its soundproofing products, Stopson Italiana provides on-site services making sure to fulfill the customer needs and meet the highest quality standards.

⟶ For More Information about Stopson Italiana soundproofing solutions click HERE 

Fundamentals of noise control in Power Generation plant

The science behind the sound mitigation solution applied to power plants.

Soundproofing refers to the processes involved in checking the sound from entering or leaving a specified area by absorbing and/ or mitigating the sound. Soundproofing mechanisms can be employed in several situations, especially industries notorious for sound pollution mostly attributed to the use of heavy-duty machinery, Power Generation plants are part of these.


Noise pollution source in power generation plants

There are numerous main sources of noise within a power plant and only a few of the major causes are taken in the exam here.

The sound power level from equipment can spread from about 120 dB to over 155 dB depending on the size and type of machine. There is no easy method to generally categorize one unit as being noisier than another, in fact, the amount of MWs turbine produce does not directly affect the noise they produce. However, diesel engines are more predictable, and generally, the higher the horsepower or kilowatt rating, the higher the noise level because more cylinders and fuel are needed.

Here is a list of some of the common noise source in power plants:

  • Combustion turbine (CT)
  • Heat recovery steam generator
  • Diesel engine
  • Superchargers on diesel engines
  • Steam generators, regulators, by-pass and control valves and piping
  • Air-cooled condensers (ACC)
  • Cooling towers, produce fan and gearbox noises
  • Fuel gas pressure regulating, metering and valve stations
  • Main step-up transformers
  • Condensate pumps, condenser units, and associated piping
  • Piping and pipe hangers not acoustically isolated from structures
  • Blow-off and venting processes
  • Remote water-pumping stations.

The sound emissions from power generation equipment can be reduced by applying noise control devices.


Sound Field Definition

To analyze noise from equipment, we need to define the sound field – that is, how the sound will propagate from the equipment or the sources of noise. Near field, far field, free field, and reverberant field are frequently mentioned. These are regions that describe certain characteristics of sound propagation as illustrated in the Figure.

Descriptions according to ISO 12001:2009

  • Near field
    • The near field of a source is the region close to a source where the sound pressure and acoustic particle velocity are not in phase.
  • Far field
    • The far field of a source begins where the near field ends and extends to infinity. Note that the transition from near to far field is gradual in the transition region. In the far field, the direct field radiated by most machinery sources will decay at the rate of about 6 dB each time the distance from the source is doubled.
  • Free field
    • The free field is a region in space where sound may propagate free from any form of obstruction.
  • Reverberant field
    • The reverberant field of a source is defined as that part of the sound field radiated by a source that has experienced at least one reflection from a boundary of the room or enclosure containing the source.

Fundamentals of Noise Control

Noise control or mitigation involves several steps, and the amount of noise reduction is driven by having to meet an environmental noise limit or some regulatory limit, not to mention workers’ safety. A simple model using the classical approach to noise control (shown below) allows the examination of the options for effective and economical noise control:

source of noise → path of noise →received noise


Applying noise control involves affecting one of these three elements. Most often it is the ‘path of noise’ that is controlled by the use of acoustic enclosures, barrier walls, silencers, and other similar noise control treatments. This method is the most widely used as the degree of noise control can be tailored depending upon the noise requirements and generally it is the more economical approach. The control on the ‘source of noise’ can be expensive because it may require a complete redesign and retooling process which takes time and money.

For new plants, examine the structure arrangement and locate the noisiest equipment or operations away from noise-sensitive areas. Grouping smaller sources together can be beneficial in that a common noise barrier or enclosure can solve a lot of small problems.


Stopson Italiana Soundproofing Solutions

Enclosures and Barriers

Shaped around noisy equipment, indoor or outdoor, on-base or off-base, designed to provide optimum noise attenuation in any critical environment. Made of modular acoustic panels and linings for sound isolation while ensuring equipment maintenance, ventilation, weather protection, and fire safety.

  • Noise abatement by 15dB(A) to 50dB(A)+
  • Vibration absorbers, anti-shock systems with noise control settings
  • Combustion air intake Unit with optional air filtration
  • Exhaust gas removal for combustion engines
  • Indoor/Outdoor Applications

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Silencer and other solutions are available at Stopson Italiana, Check-out all the soundproofing products.

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