Acoustic experts are used to examining and alleviating the effect of noise in the workplace. (Institute of Acoustics press release).
But acoustic consultants, and members of the Institute of Acoustics, Donald Quinn and Paul Bassett of Hepworth Acoustics had a job with a difference in Scotland recently. They were commissioned to investigate the noise exposure of dog care staff at the world-class Guide Dog Training School in Forfar, Scotland.
Dog accommodation at the school, officially opened by HRH Princess Alexandra in 2008, is open-plan to encourage the dogs to socialise.
While the open-plan environment was a positive key feature, the chorus of delighted barking from the guide-dogs-in-training as they greeted staff first thing in the morning needed to be addressed.
So, the challenge for the acoustic consultants? To ensure that staff were adequately protected from the intermittent and unpredictable noise levels and the noise was reduced where feasible, without altering the open plan layout of the school.
In a paper being presented at Euronoise, the European conference on noise control, in Edinburgh October 26-28, the consultants said they focused on one of the kennel blocks at the school. The kennel block is a double storey room, with a viewing window for visitors at the first floor level unlike the other blocks which feature a low ceiling. However, this larger room meant more reverberation and "marginally higher (noise) levels" than the other accommodation blocks and the acoustic environment was "less desirable during periods when dogs were barking".
The solution? Installing a highly absorptive acoustic ceiling below the soffit and fixing acoustically absorbent wall tiles to the walls.
The result? Reduced noise and reverberation levels, for both dogs and staff.
For more information about The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, please visit: www.guidedogs.org.uk Link (External)
The Association provides services to allow blind and partially-sighted people to get around and live life to the full.