Noise abatement materials in call centres

Project No. BGIA 4122

Status:

completed 08/2006

Aims:

Exposure to noise in call centres and other shared offices is primarily a function of the large number of telephone calls, the volume of which varies strongly from one person to the next. This noise exposure impairs concentration, is a major obstacle to comprehension, and raises the requisite speech volume. In consequence, it leads to stress responses and impaired performance. The exposure to noise can frequently be reduced by the provision of suitable acoustic screens or wall panel elements and by the fitting of noise-absorbent materials to walls, ceilings, and furniture surfaces. The study, conducted with the support of the institution for statutory accident insurance and prevention in the administrative sector, aimed to reveal information on the suitability of the materials and prefabricated products available on the market, not least in consideration of the overall arrangements for room acoustics and room design. The attainable improvements in the noise situation were also to be measured.

Activities/Methods:

A market survey was performed of the noise absorption materials and the acoustic screens and free-standing wall panels which are particularly suitable for this area of application (call centres). Comparative measurements were conducted in the laboratory and in call centres in order to demonstrate the effect of the materials and elements upon the acoustics. The results were compiled in a guide for use in the provision of advice to call centres.

Results:

In order to identify particularly suitable materials, construction elements and construction facilities for improvement of the acoustic workplace environment in call centres and other shared offices. The overview contains sound-absorbing ceiling and wall panelling, free-standing wall and desk panel elements with sound-absorbing properties on both sides, and certain special products such as sound-absorbent, transparent roller blinds. Since in call centres, in particular, the sound of speech from the workplace environment constitutes the main source of noise, and the frequency components of this speech exposure which determine the amplitude are situated in the frequency range corresponding to the octave band from approximately 500 Hz to 1000 Hz, the particular suitability of the products is geared to the level of their acoustic absorption within this frequency range (manufacturers' data/test certificates). With the exception of the special products, all materials referred to in the overview absorb at least 60% or 70% of the acoustic energy at 500 Hz and 1000 Hz respectively.

The consultancy provided to certain call centres on the subject of noise abatement measures included case-specific recommendations to the companies concerned for certain materials contained in the catalogue of results.

If applicable, an evaluation is to be conducted as part of a follow-on project following implementation of the recommended measures.

Further informations:

Last Update:

16-Jan-2007

Project

Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BGIA
Branche(s):

administrations

Type of hazard:

noise/vibrations

Catchwords:

Lärm, Bildschirmarbeit, Arbeitsplatzgestaltung

Description, key words:

noise abatement, call centres, room acoustics, screening, acoustic elements, absorption material

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