Repository logo

Noise exposure in steel stud construction: noise characterizations and tool limit guidance for commercial framers


Noise exposure in construction is well-demonstrated to be hazardous to hearing, with high rates among construction workers of occupational noise-induced hearing loss. This study focused on an under-studied population of construction workers: Commercial framers who cut and install steel studs as their primary task. This study used personal noise dosimetry and task assessments to characterize the noise exposures of this population, and to develop implementable recommendations to decrease hazardous occupational noise exposure for this population of workers. Sound pressure levels of common power saws at the framers' hearing zone was hazardous, with Leq log-transformed means of 107.2 dBA and Lpeak means of 120.1 dBC during saw use. Noise dose among this population ranged from 5.8 – 61.4% of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) and from 63.9 – 823.2% for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended exposure limit (REL). Mean ambient noise dose equivalent at the study sites was 1.4% for OSHA PEL criteria and 12.4% for NIOSH REL criteria. Overall, installers had significantly lower REL doses than cut persons (p = 0.016). Octave band analysis showed a slight upward trend of higher sound pressure levels at higher frequencies. Recommendations for task limitations were developed for isolated use of power saws, the powder-actuated tool (PAT) nailer, and the impact driver. Generalized cuts of steel studs without hearing protectors were limited to 13 – 14 cuts per worker per day for any saw and any stud type. Shots with the PAT nailer were limited to <2 shots per day per worker without hearing protectors, 10 – 13 shots per day with foam earplugs, 27 – 34 shots per day with earmuffs, and 86 – 108 shots per day with double hearing protection (earplugs plus earmuffs).


Rights Access



Associated Publications