Impact of Noise in the Workplace

Posted by Chris Stephens on 12/02/2013

Noise. It’s all around us. Like the air we breathe, noise is just part of life in the modern world. Airplanes, traffic, construction, media… you seemingly can’t get away from it. 

One brief Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) definition of noise is “unwanted sound”. In many workplaces, noise comes from loud working environments, such as manufacturing plants. But what about noise at the office?  How do you cope with unwanted sound in the workplace where distraction leads to decreased productivity? Such ‘noise’ could come from conversations in adjacent cubicles, or undesirable music played by a coworker.

One way to minimize the impact of this type of noise is to utilize a ‘sound masking’ system. A sound masking system uses a white/pink noise sound generator to play over a speaker system throughout an area. That’s right… we’re using noise to combat noise!

A white/pink noise generator creates a constant, flat audio signal that plays at a low volume to raise what is called the “noise floor” in the room. By definition, the noise floor is the “sum of all sound sources and unwanted signals within a measurement system." So, by adding in a constant white or pink noise, you are raising the overall noise floor in the room.

In fact, you may already be doing something similar in your bedroom at home by running a fan or other device to add background sound to help you sleep. You see, by adding that sound, you increase the level of noise in the room (the ‘noise floor’) so that common, everyday sounds don’t rouse you in your sleep.

The same can hold true for your work environment. By adding in a sound masking system, you can raise the noise floor in the room which will help tune out other sounds around you that cause distraction. The constant noise from a noise generator could very well make your work environment more productive.