2013-03-01 12:00 - Messages

Effect of noise and redundant auditory alarm signal on semiconductor production operators' response to machine downtime

This paper investigates the effect of noise and the effect of a redundant impulsive auditory alarm signal on production operators' response to machine downtime in a semiconductor manufacturing system. Machine uptime is essential for productive and efficient production system and therefore downtime calls for an immediate response. Given a higher machine-to-man ratio, there is a difficulty in achieving quick response to machine downtime. For this end, ergonomic tower lamps with visual and auditory displays are used in most semiconductor manufacturing system to alert production operators and therefore minimize response time. The results of this study showed that a less noisy environment enhances operators' response to machine downtime. This proves literatures' claim on the limited capacity of human perception to achieve sharper focus on tasks when noise is present. Furthermore, the results also proved that a redundant auditory alarm signal aside from visual alarm at moderately high to high noise exposure; 85-90 dBA and >90 dBA, respectively, does not improve responses as discussed by literatures. It could be, as literatures say, that on persistent exposure to alarm signals beyond permissible noise level of 85 dBA, production operators may experience alarm fatigue phenomenon - a state of failing to hear the signals. Thus, redundant auditory alarm signals are only added costs and can further increase ambient noise which may, in effect, possibly induce health-related problems.
Source : Lanndon A. Ocampo, Eppie E. Clark, Alaine Liggayu. Effect of noise and redundant auditory alarm signal on semiconductor production operators' response to machine downtime. Noise & Vibration Worldwide, vol. 43, no 11, p. 21-28. http://dx.doi.org/10.1260/0957-4565.43.11.21

noise, fatigue, visual-auditory signal, alarm, semiconductor

Noise-induced hearing loss

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) still remains a problem in developed countries, despite reduced occupational noise exposure, strict standards for hearing protection and extensive public health awareness campaigns. Therefore NIHL continues to be the focus of noise research activities. This paper summarizes progress achieved recently in our knowledge of NIHL. It includes papers published between the years 2008-2011 (in English), which were identified by a literature search of accessible medical and other relevant databases. A substantial part of this research has been concerned with the risk of NIHL in the entertainment sector, particularly in professional, orchestral musicians. There are also constant concerns regarding noise exposure and hearing risk in "hard to control" occupations, such as farming and construction work. Although occupational noise has decreased since the early 1980s, the number of young people subject to social noise exposure has tripled. If the exposure limits from the Noise at Work Regulations are applied, discotheque music, rock concerts, as well as music from personal music players are associated with the risk of hearing loss in teenagers and young adults. Several recent research studies have increased the understanding of the pathomechanisms of acoustic trauma, the genetics of NIHL, as well as possible dietary and pharmacologic otoprotection in acoustic trauma. The results of these studies are very promising and offer grounds to expect that targeted therapies might help prevent the loss of sensory hair cells and protect the hearing of noise-exposed individuals. These studies emphasize the need to launch an improved noise exposure policy for hearing protection along with developing more efficient norms of NIHL risk assessment.

Sliwinska-Kowalska M, Davis A. Noise-induced hearing loss. Noise Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2013 Mar 18];14:274-80. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2012/14/61/274/104893

Noise and communication: A three-year update

Noise is omnipresent and impacts us all in many aspects of daily living. Noise can interfere with communication not only in industrial workplaces, but also in other work settings (e.g. open-plan offices, construction, and mining) and within buildings (e.g. residences, arenas, and schools). The interference of noise with communication can have significant social consequences, especially for persons with hearing loss, and may compromise safety (e.g. failure to perceive auditory warning signals), influence worker productivity and learning in children, affect health (e.g. vocal pathology, noise-induced hearing loss), compromise speech privacy, and impact social participation by the elderly. For workers, attempts have been made to: 1) Better define the auditory performance needed to function effectively and to directly measure these abilities when assessing Auditory Fitness for Duty, 2) design hearing protection devices that can improve speech understanding while offering adequate protection against loud noises, and 3) improve speech privacy in open-plan offices. As the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the effects of noise, an understanding of the interplay between auditory, cognitive, and social factors and its effect on speech communication and social participation is also critical. Classroom acoustics and speech intelligibility in children have also gained renewed interest because of the importance of effective speech comprehension in noise on learning. Finally, substantial work has been made in developing models aimed at better predicting speech intelligibility. Despite progress in various fields, the design of alarm signals continues to lag behind advancements in knowledge. This summary of the last three years' research highlights some of the most recent issues for the workplace, for older adults, and for children, as well as the effectiveness of warning sounds and models for predicting speech intelligibility. Suggestions for future work are also discussed.

Source : Brammer AJ, Laroche C. Noise and communication: A three-year update. Noise Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2013 Mar 18];14:281-6. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2012/14/61/281/104894

Combined Exposures: An update from the International commission on biological effects of noise

International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise (ICBEN) Team 8 deals with the effects of combined "agents" in the urban and work place settings. Results presented at the ICBEN conference indicate that some pesticides, more specifically the organophosphates, and a wider range of industrial chemicals are harmful to the auditory system at concentrations often found in occupational settings. Effects of occupational noise on hearing are exacerbated by toluene and possibly by carbon monoxide. Several of the chemicals studied found to be potentially toxic not only to hair cells in the cochlea but also to the auditory nerve. In urban environments, team 8 focuses on additive and synergetic effects of ambient stressors. It was argued that noise policies need to pay attention to grey areas with intermediate noise levels. Noteworthy is also stronger reactions to vibrations experienced in the evening and during the night. An innovative event-based model for sound perception was presented.

Source : Leroux T, Klaeboe R. Combined Exposures: An update from the International comission on biological effects of noise. Noise Health 2012;14:313-4. http://www.noiseandhealth.org/article.asp?issn=1463-1741;year=2012;volume=14;issue=61;spage=313;epage=314;aulast=Leroux

Noise and cardiovascular disease: a review of the literature 2008-2011

The association between noise and cardiovascular disease has been studied for several decades and the weight of evidence clearly supports a causal link. Nevertheless, many questions remain, such as the magnitude and threshold level for adverse effects of noise, how noise and other cardio-toxic pollutants (such as particulate matter) may interact in disease causation, identification of vulnerable populations, of exposure modifiers (i.e., location of bedrooms) and of other effect-modifiers (i.e., gender), and how epidemiologic methodology can be improved. This review describes contributions to literature over the past 3 years in the area of noise and CVD in general, with particular focus on these questions.

Davies H, Kamp IV. Noise and cardiovascular disease: A review of the literature 2008-2011. Noise Health [serial online] 2012 [cited 2013 Mar 18];14:287-91. Available from: http://www.noiseandhealth.org/text.asp?2012/14/61/287/104895

Open-plan office noise: The susceptibility and suitability of different cognitive tasks for work in the presence of irrelevant speech

The aim of the present study was to test which tasks are suitable for work in open-plan offices according to how susceptible they are to disruption produced by the mere presence of irrelevant speech. The tasks were chosen to tap fundamental capacities of office work involving: search for relevant information, remembering material, counting, and generation of words. The hypothesis was that tasks requiring semantic processing should be impaired by irrelevant speech. To determine the magnitude of performance decrease, two sound conditions (quiet, irrelevant speech) were compared. The results showed that tasks based on episodic short-term-memory and rehearsal of the presented material were more sensitive to disruption by irrelevant speech than tasks which did not require rehearsal or were based on long-term memory retrieval. The present study points to the inappropriateness of tasks, such as information search and remembering of material, for work environments within which irrelevant speech is ubiquitous.

Source : Jahncke H. Open-plan office noise: The susceptibility and suitability of different cognitive tasks for work in the presence of irrelevant speech. Noise Health 2012;14:315-20. http://www.noiseandhealth.org/article.asp?issn=1463-1741;year=2012;volume=14;issue=61;spage=315;epage=320;aulast=Jahncke  


Comparative analysis of exposure limit values of vibrating hand-held tools

In the European Union, one of every four workers claims to be exposed to vibration for up to 2 h of his/her working day. The use of vibrating hand-held tools is the most common cause of vibration-related injury in workers. Of all sectors of professional activity, the construction industry has the highest number of workers affected by vibration. European Directive 2002/44/EC on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding worker exposure to risks from physical agents (e.g. vibration) limits exposure to vibration.This study analysed the exposure level of construction workers to hand-arm vibration. For this research, vibration levels of the most common construction tools were compared, and the maximum time that each tool could be safely used was established. Finally, these limit values were compared to the tool vibration data provided by manufacturers. The results showed that for 42% of the tools studied, the daily exposure limit value was exceeded.

Source : López-Alonsoa, M., Pacheco-Torresa, R., Martínez-Aires,D. , Ordoñez-García, J. Comparative analysis of exposure limit values of vibrating hand-held tools. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2013.01.006

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