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Permissible Exposure Levels

Noral D. Stewart noral at ix.netcom.com
Fri Aug 23 20:03:30 EST 1996

Gene McIntosh wrote:
> Can anyone suggest a source for guidlelines on sound exposure levels in
> the office work environment.
> Thanks in advance
> mcintosh at moffitt.usf.edu 
It depends on what your criteria are.  You should never have noise 
levels in an office that would be damaging to hearing.  If levels were 
that high you would not be able to have normal office conversations.  
OSHA requires a hearing conservation program when A-weighted overall 
levels average 85 dB or more over 8 hours, or equivalent for longer 
periods.  In normal offices, we try to keep steady A-weighted levels 
below about 48-50 dB.  Above this level people will begin raising their 
voice or complaining.  This is a desirable level for open-plan offices 
because it assists privacy.  Lower levels around 42 dB are desirable for 
most closed offices, or 37 dB for larger executive offices.  Frequently 
occurring intermittent noises should not be above about 55 dB.  Higher 
levels are often accepted in industrial offices adjacent to 
manufacturing areas.

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