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Does my equipment meet OSHA?
Keywords: Noise, Design, OSHA
Data Center and Telecommunication Facilities are often filled with large amounts of hard-working fan-cooled equipment. In some cases, sound levels approach the dreaded 'OSHA Limit'. It's natural that facility owners and operators would want to purchase equipment that would help them avoid employee hearing loss and the need for hearing protection or hearing conservation programs. Although equipment noise emission is a key issue, OSHA regulations say nothing whatsoever about individual equipment items. Instead they focus on noise exposure of individual workers. This noise exposure is a consequence of all the noise emitters in the space (including support equipment), the acoustical properties of the space, and the time-and-motion path of personnel during a shift. Furthermore, there are two 'limits' which relate to 8-hour exposure, a not to exceed limit and an 'action level'. There is also a level-duration tradeoff that permits higher exposure levels for shorter durations and requires lower exposure levels for longer exposures. This presentation will demystify the relationship between product noise emission and worker noise exposure, and will make clear all the elements that would be required to answer the question 'does my equipment meet OSHA?'.
David A. Nelson, Principal Consultant
Nelson Acoustics
Elgin, TX

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