In March 2007, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) was asked to evaluate the noise exposure of employees in the Nutrition and Food Services Department of a large hospital, because of noise concerns raised after the installation of the PowerSoak® dishwashing system. Eleven employees (two cooks, eight food service workers, and a materials handler) contributed 13 full-shift and two task-based personal noise dosimetry measures over two days. The noise levels for two food service workers assigned to the pots and pans room (85.1 and 85.2dBA), a cook working in the food preparation area (85.9 dBA), and a food service worker assigned to the dishwashing room (89.5 dBA) exceeded the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL); however, none of the measures exceeded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL). The noise level from the PowerSoak® dishwashing system alone was not excessive, but additional noise from the food preparation area (primarily from blenders and utensils), and from metal-to-metal contact between stainless steel pots and pans and metal racks, may explain exposures above the NIOSH REL for employees in the pots and pans room. The cooks were exposed to many intermittent impact noise sources, such as, metal-to-metal contact between utensils and the use of industrial-size blenders. We recommended that metal-to-metal contact be reduced as much as possible throughout the Nutrition and Food Services Department, and hearing protectors be provided to employees in the dishwashing room until engineering controls were in place.
- Hospital kitchen
- Noise exposures
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Speech and Hearing