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Buy Quiet

Posted on by Heidi Hudson, MPH, and Chuck Hayden, MS, PE

a circular sawWe know that using tools and machinery that produce less noise will help prevent hearing loss among the workers who use them. The next step would seem obvious—buy quieter tools and machinery. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Making products quieter is a tough sell in industry. Currently, the availability of quieter tools and machines is limited and it’s not always clear to purchasers how much noise particular tools and machinery produce. NIOSH and its partners are working to change that through the creation of a Buy Quiet web tool.

This web tool will build on the process of “buy quiet”—the concept that employers can most effectively reduce hazardous noise levels at their worksites through their procurement process. The process encourages a purchaser to compare the noise emission levels of differing models of equipment being purchased and, whenever possible, purchase the quieter model. “Buy quiet” provides an easy and effective method for an employer to demonstrate a commitment to the use of the best available technology to reduce the number of workers suffering from, or at risk of, occupational noise-induced hearing loss. This can help position a company as being innovative and competitive for its business. The process also shifts some of the responsibility for “quiet” onto the groups most capable of reducing noise emission at its source, the manufacturers of the machinery and equipment being purchased.

Given the high rates of noise-induced hearing loss in the construction and manufacturing industries, NIOSH and its partners are developing and field testing a web-based tool to help it make it easier to purchase quieter tools and machinery in these industries . The Buy Quiet web tool will incorporate elements from an existing procurement process in flow chart, generating purchasing options, cost-benefit calculations, and updates to existing inventories as new equipment is purchased and older equipment is retired. We hope this web-based Buy Quiet tool will do two things:

  1. Help to change market forces to increase demand for quieter equipment and machinery by the construction and manufacturing industry; and
  2. Motivate respective manufacturers to provide such quiet equipment.

There are already “buy quiet” and “quiet-by-design” efforts underway within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Other collaborative research partners, such as the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) are focused on motivating cultural change within an industry. The LHSFNA provides information resources and methods for reducing noise emissions and promotes the implementation of noise controls and “buy quiet” programs. “Buy quiet” programs and the application of engineering noise controls will also be promoted through revising existing standards to recommend appropriate noise-level testing and labeling.

As we move forward with the development of the NIOSH Buy Quiet web tool, we value your input. Leave a comment below to let us know if such a tool would be beneficial in your workplace. Can you foresee specific benefits and barriers for using this web tool in your organization? Can you suggest strategies for overcoming challenges? Is your organization interested in participating in a pilot?

You can also provide your input in person at the upcoming Buy Quiet Workshop November 9-10, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Lieutenant Commander Hudson is a Health Communications Officer in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

Captain Hayden is a Research Acoustical Engineer in the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology.

See also

Posted on by Heidi Hudson, MPH, and Chuck Hayden, MS, PETags

23 comments on “Buy Quiet”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    Using a tool’s quiet level as a selling point sounds like a great idea! It’s a good thing to think about before purchase and should be considered an important factor.

    This is a great website. It can be used to prove to regulators that solutions exist. Laws in NYC are driving construction contractors to be quieter to protect the public. Hearing protection advocates should fight for such laws, because if we wait for OSHA to enforce heqring protection in construction, it will never happen. The best way to get companies to buy quiet: require it. The best way to get laws: educate the workforce and the public about the dangers.

    I think this is a wonderful idea. Please include vacuums and sweepers in the program, as off-the-job safety, and hearing protection, is just as important as on-the-job safety!

    One of the great ideas coming out of the BQ meeting this week was “rent quiet.” A lot of expensive equipment is rented by contractors. The big rental houses could request the suppliers to supply their quietest equipment. Contractors could request the quietest rental equipment. An easy win for ears.

    The Buy-Quiet Workshop last week (Nov 9-10) turned out exceptionally well. There are a number of Buy-Quiet efforts running in parallel, and the Workshop’ strong consensus will help us to be coordinated and more effective in the future.

    Buy-Quiet policies and programs are helpful in the interim until buying quiet becomes a straightforward option in the marketplace. Corporate purchasers, insurers, regulators, municipalities, state governments, and trade organizations can all help, but the goal will be fully realized when products are labelled meaningfully and awareness of the risk of hearing loss causes buyers to instinctively choose quieter products, and in turn causes manufacturers to produce quieter products. It should be no more complicated than assessing the gas mileage of a new automobile.

    Until that time, a strong business case can usually be made by comparing the cost of buying quiet with the cost of “owning” noise, as a minimum justification for taking action. BQ programs can be tailored to the needs and desires of each industry and corporation. Quiet-by-design methods are also available to manufacturers, so we’re slowly closing the loop.

    A safe and silent machinery together to help maintain awareness of the worker, an optimal work safety.

    I agree with David Nelson’s comments, and I felt privileged to take part in such a constructive meeting. Manufacturers and suppliers need to take Buy Quiet seriously because it is the most effective way of reducing noise, cutting the cost of controling it and dealing with the resultant deafness. It’s not expensive or difficult to control noise at the design stage, and these controls are normally the most robust and successful.

    Consumers need to demand quiet products to buy and hire and suppliers of this kit need to shout about it!

    This is one of the best ideas I have seen in awhile. This tool would be very practical. Anything that is out there to enhance the decision process for project/design engineers, procurement personnel, and HSE professionals is a step forward. I think this would drive the equipment manufacturers to better performance in this area. I hope that project proceeds.

    It is great to hear that tool and equipment rentals were discussed at the recent BQ meetings. Renting or “Rent-Quiet” is interchangeable with “Buy-Quiet” as it relates to the use of tools and equipment.

    As a result of economic trends, changes in available financing options, etc tools and heavy equipment are rented at increasing rates. This is a trend I do not see changing soon.

    Additionally rentals are sometimes used by people that do not work with a such items regularly. This heightens the need for ensuring they understand any hazards or safety concerns associated with their use.

    My company Rent It Today is developing resources for a “Rent Safe” program/initiative that is slated to launch early 2012. Our high traffic website and social media networks promote everything for rent throughout North America. It reaches consumers (renters), rental companies and manufacturers. As such we are excited about its potential to be a valuable media vessel and resource for prevention by design programs like “Rent-Quiet”

    I agree that this would be good but don’t just apply to tools. After working in forestry machinery for years. It would be good if the cabin on machinery was better equipped to restrict noise as we have to use hearing protection even when inside of the machine but the noise levels are constant and still effect the operators hearing. would be good if it could be regulated across the board not just with tools.

    Buy quiet is a great idea, as a manufacturer of acoustic “sound absorbing” products for power equipment we have a long history of creative solutions for noise reduction. Our biggest hurdle is always that the manufacturers of this type of equipment are very price sensitive and don’t want to pay to have a quieter machine. It’s efforts like BQ that will make them think twice about sound levels, that in turn will help this movement and ultimately the end user.

    As a carpenter I have seen quite a few accidents and injuries on site which could of been avoided if the noise level was at a lower level, even thou ppe is issued not a lot of site members use correct ppe such as ear plugs and suffer with with personal injurys including tinitus, it is also very difficult to get a message across of an impending accident etc when noise levels are too high.

    A web tool of lass noise is a great idea. I see your provided link and visited it, i found that its very helpful for carpenters. They feel large problem from tool’s noise. Technology behind this tool is different and nice.


    A broader selling point for buying quiet is energy conservation. Noise is a type of energy produced as a by-product of the normal operation of tools or equipment. Heat is another. The ideal tool or piece of equipment converts the energy put into it into the work for which the tool or equipment is intended. Heat and noise are usually unwanted wastes of energy. If we can reduce the heat and noise produced by a tool or piece of equipment, we may also be increasing its energy efficiency.

    Fantastic work from you. I am really amazed by the ethical work rate you’ve put in here. This certainly is a world class article from your side. And I wouldn’t mind more such articles like this.

    Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Wonderful. I am also a specialist in this topic therefore I can understand your effort.

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