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Acoustics Indicators

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Sound-technical evaluation

In 2003 a group of experts of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) published a list with three indicators which can be used for a rough evaluation of the acoustic quality of office workplaces.

  • Criterion 1: A single, identifiable sound source created proportional sound level should not exceed more than 4 dB compared to the sound level of any other sound source altogether. Otherwise the workstation has to be classified as “inconvenient” in terms of sound-technical evaluation.
  • Criterion 2: Conversations out of other work areas and from the outside should not be hearable. That implies, that in small offices the proportional level of intruding noises from the outside should be at least 5 dB below the existing basic sound level, in large capacity offices at least 3 dB.
  • Criterion 3: If the concerned person does not work, the combined sound level from all sources should be as low as possible. The result of this evaluation can be seen in the following table.

These three criteria are applicable to all VDU-workstations in offices. They apply to large capacity offices or single offices as well as to combined offices. If criteria 1 to 3 lead to a different evaluation, then the more inconvenient is applicable to evaluate the workstation.

Source: Investigation and reduction of noise at VDU-workstations in the office and in production, work task scientifical findings nr. 124 VDU-work – noise reduction in large capacity offices; Editor: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), Dortmund 2003