Engineering out the noise

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The US Navy, through an Office of Naval Research (ONR) lead effort on Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), is investigating methods and techniques to mitigate hearing loss for the crews and warfighters. Hearing protection is a viable and increasingly popular method of reducing hearing exposure for many ship crew members; however, it has limitations on comfort and low frequency effectiveness. Furthermore, Personal Hearing Protection (PHP) is often used improperly. Proper vessel planning, programmatic changes and advances in noise control engineering can also have significant impacts by inherently reducing noise exposure through ship design and use of noise control treatments. These impacts go beyond hearing loss mitigation since they can improve quality of life onboard vessels and provide enhanced warfighter performance. Such approaches also can be made to work in the lower frequency range where hearing protection is not as effective. This paper describes non-hearing protection methods being implemented to mitigate and control noise within the US Navy and US Marine Corps. These approaches reflect the latest changes to Mil-Std 1474E, Appendix F.HighlightsNoise induced hearing loss and decreased warfighter performance are issues when warfighters are exposed to high noise levels.Noise controls should be primary means to protect personnel from hazardous noise before personal hearing protection and hazard signs.Reducing noise levels on US Navy and Marine ships requires engineering in the design phase.Use of acoustical prediction tools is necessary in the design phase for optimization of noise control treatments.A comprehensive plan is necessary to properly “engineer out the noise” in an optimal manner while still minimizing the impact on space, weight, and total cost.

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