The BuyQuietRoadmap is focused entirely on hearing loss prevention and does not specifically address other important noise exposure issues such as speech intelligibility and work environment comfort that are often associated with moderate- or lower-level noise sources. A comprehensive approach to noise exposure management will consider these lower and moderate level noise issues as well as hearing loss prevention when developing requirements for any siting, procurement, and design projects.
Noise emission from equipment impacts personnel at four levels: Industrial, Laboratory, Office, and Classroom.
The BuyQuietRoadmap is intended to apply to the higher, hearing conservation levels (“Industrial” class).
- “Industrial” environments typically are 80 dBA or higher. Successful speech communication usually requires shouting from 3 feet away. There is a significant possibility of hearing loss and, if the sources are outdoors, community noise complaints.
- “Laboratory” environments are typically in the range of 55–80 dBA. The chief concern in such a space is the difficulty of speech intelligibility; the levels are usually not high enough to damage hearing. Characterized by raised voices from 20 feet away and difficulty using the telephone.
- “Office” environments ideally fall in the range of 40–55 dBA. Speech intelligibility is adequate and telephone use is acceptable. However, excessive noise in the office environment results in lost productivity and distractions.
- “Classroom” environments are ideally below 40 dBA. Noise problems in these environments, as in other rooms requiring quiet, may be driven by “sound quality” concerns wherein the “quality” of the sound (e.g., buzzing, excessive tonality) is more important than the quantity.
Adjacent functions (such as industrial and laboratory) can often be sited next to one another in adjacent spaces without special construction methods. Non-adjacent functions (such as industrial and office) located adjacent to one another (including above or below) will almost certainly require special construction methods.