The Differences Between Active and Passive Noise Control Methods

Noise reduction protects employees and employers from workplace hazard liability as an investment in workplace safety. Factories of any kind of industry can be noisy or deafening over time. Excess and undeadened noise in the workplace can lead to hearing loss and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and other safety hazards. This is why industries employ both active and passive noise control methods. But what are the differences between active and passive noise control methods? We’ll explain shortly, but first, why is noise reduction essential in industrial spaces?

The Importance of Noise Reduction

Any factory noise can be a health hazard, so it’s essential to incorporate noise reduction in industrial workplaces. Besides causing hearing loss, loud industrial noise can lead to high blood pressure, depression, and stress, among other health issues. Prolonged exposure to these loud industrial sounds can cause the hearing cells in the ears to become damaged or die, which makes it harder or impossible to hear. Noise reduction in an industrial workplace limits the emission of these sounds.

A factory must take various precautions to reduce industrial noise, including using sound suppressors, modular acoustic screens, and loaded vinyl panels, all available from Singer Safety. OSHA standards require a hearing protection program when noises are too loud (over 85 decibels) over a specified time. This program includes steps to reduce noise and limit hearing loss caused by elements in the workplace. Once hearing cells become damaged or die, there’s no way of regenerating them, which is why it’s so critical to stop hearing damage before it occurs. Within noise reduction, there is active noise cancellation and passive noise cancellation. Next, we’ll explore the differences between active and passive noise cancellation and how they differ from noise reduction. When we understand the differences between active and passive noise cancellation, it’s easier to employ the most efficient methods to protect hearing.

Active Noise Cancellation vs. Passive

There are differences between active and passive noise control methods. Both are important in limiting industrial noise exposure for employees to protect their hearing. For maximum hearing protection, combining both active and passive noise control methods is optimal. Below are the differences between active and passive noise control methods. But first, knowing how sound works is essential before using active noise cancellation.

How Sound Works

Sound travels from its source to our ears through a wavelength. Because it functions as a wave, sound has amplitude, determining its volume. A soundwave has other characteristics like frequency, but here, we’ll focus on amplitude. Fierce sounds usually have high amplitudes, meaning they’re very loud. Industrial noises often have high amplitudes because they’re loud and can easily damage our hearing. Opposite soundwaves can cancel soundwaves. Waves with opposite amplitudes basically “zero out” harmful waves. But why is this crucial in active noise cancellation?

Active Noise Cancellation

Active noise cancellation, or active noise control, is a method of sound reduction where devices such as microphones and speakers produce sound waves to cancel out harmful sound waves. Microphones perceive harmful noises that industrial workplaces make. Then, the active noise reduction system computes the soundwaves and, in turn, emits opposite wavelengths through the speakers to cancel the loud noises.

Passive Noise Cancellation

Passive noise cancellation methods absorb sound or redirect it to limit sound exposure. Passive methods can include using Singer Safety’s noise control systems, which reduce harmful sounds in multiple ways. These systems can be used to create quiet floors, ceilings, and walls and control vibrations in industrial and environmental settings. Passive noise cancellation methods are often more economical than active methods and are easy to rearrange and repurpose based on industrial needs. Where active noise control methods purposefully cancel out harmful sound, passive noise cancellation methods use materials that dissipate or dampen sound. These materials include sound-dampening curtains, carpeting, and ceiling sound baffles.

Now that we’ve discussed the differences between active and passive noise control methods, let’s look at another form of noise control– using noise cancelling earbuds or hearing protection devices. Both have their benefits, but their technology differs.

Hearing Protection Devices vs. Noise Cancelling Earbuds

While noise cancelling earbuds and hearing protection devices might sound similar, they have different uses. Let’s explore how they differ.

Hearing Protection Devices

Hearing protection devices include earmuffs and specialized earplugs. These devices are designed to protect employees from noise levels depending on their make and model. Hearing protection devices are recommended for employees to wear in industrial and other loud settings to protect their hearing. These are not to be confused with noise cancelling earbuds or headphones.

Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Noise cancelling earbuds and headphones cancel out background noises, so you can hear audio through them much better and at a lower volume. Some noise cancelling devices use active noise cancelling technology to zero out background noises, while others passively block out background noises. Depending on use, they usually aren’t recommended to block out significant industrial noises.

Noise control is essential to incorporate throughout an industrial workplace. With a combination of active and passive noise control methods, you can limit damaging noise exposure for everyone in the area.

Protecting the Workforce With Singer Safety

At Singer Safety in Chicago, we take workplace safety seriously, including the auditory health of workers. We’re an industry leader in industrial safety, and our team is dedicated to excellent customer service to make it possible for your organization.

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