All sounds come from a vibration—from the loud rumble of an airplane to the melodic chirps of birds in the morning. These vibrations occur at various rates, meaning every sound operates at a different frequency. For example, humans are typically able to hear frequencies between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. As such, most human speech is between 1,000 and 5,000 Hz. However, as people get older, they may begin to lose their hearing, sometimes due to repeated exposure to loud or high-frequency noises.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is particularly common among individuals who regularly surround themselves with loud noises, such as machinists or manufacturing facility workers. To reduce the risk of employees developing noise-induced hearing loss, many manufacturing facilities are installing acoustic absorption systems. To better understand these systems and how they can reduce the risk of NIHL, it is important to first understand how acoustic absorption works.

An Overview of Sound

To understand acoustic absorption, we must first understand sound. As we’ve stated above, all sounds are a result of vibrations, which then transmit through audible waves. Many factors affect our perception of these waves, including the pitch and duration of frequencies. Further, sonic texture impacts our perception of these sounds. Sonic texture refers to the number of sound sources in a certain area and how they interact with each other.

After a sound emits, the wave then interacts with other objects in the area before finally reaching our ears. The sound wave can react with these objects in several ways, depending on the surrounding environment. Surrounding materials may reflect, absorb, or transmit the sound. Each of these will affect how you perceive the sound.

Sound in the Workplace

Imagine that you work in a noisy manufacturing facility, where loud machinery is a part of your daily life. Without a noise control system, such as industrial acoustic panels, these loud sounds reflect off other objects in the facility. This does little to dampen the sound before it reaches your ears, potentially causing noise-induced hearing loss. Noise control systems, however, are more porous, trapping the sound and turning it to heat. This process dampens the noise and reduces the perception of the sound once it reaches our ears, lessening the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Understanding how acoustic absorption works will help you recognize the importance of engineered noise control solutions in the workplace. If you operate a loud manufacturing plant, SVI Industrial can help you prevent noise-induced hearing loss among your employees.