Operating a boat can be fun and exciting. However, there is a risk that you’re going to experience difficulties along the way. For instance, you may notice intense noise and vibration while operating the boat. Unfortunately, this could lead to issues. Noise and vibration can impact you greatly when operating the boat. You need to be ready for anything. Within this guide, you’re going to learn more about noise and vibration impacting you when you operate a vessel.
How Do Noise And Vibration Affect You When Operating A Boat?
Being exposed to loud noises can be detrimental to the individual running the boat. With that being said, it is important to refer to the recommendations put forth by OSHA or The Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The agency has set legal workplace limits of 90 dbA. It is recommended that workers can only be continuously exposed to sounds up to 90 dbA. It also goes on to say that anything above that level could negatively impact the worker in question.
When the sound is increased by 5 dbA, OSHA cuts the allowed exposure in half. So, what happens when someone is exposed to these noises?
The Risks Of Noise Exposure
Unfortunately, being exposed to loud noises for a long time can lead to immense risks. Extended exposure about the 90 dbA level can lead to various symptoms, including insomnia, nausea, muscle tension, fatigue, increased blood pressure, and an increased heart rate. In addition to this, repeated exposure will greatly impact your concentration. Suffice to say, it is vital to do what you can to offset the risks.
Another thing to note is that this is going to have an impact on the operator’s communication capabilities. Below, you’ll learn more about the impact noise can have on communication.
Noise & Communication
Ultimately, loud noise can negatively impact the operator’s ability to communicate. When noise levels exceed 80 decibels, the operator will have a difficult time communicating. They’ll have to speak very loudly to ensure that they’re going to be heard.
When the noise levels climb to 85 or 90 DB, the operator will need to shout. Finally, people will need to get closer to hear one another once the noise levels climb to 95 DB. Suffice to say, this could be incredibly dangerous.
If you’re unable to hear, there is a good chance that you’re going to expose yourself to higher risks.
Boat Noise Levels
When operating a boat, there is a good chance that you’re going to expose yourself to extreme noise levels. However, your boat isn’t always loud. For instance, the idle noise level will drop to 60 decibels. This noise level is what you would expect from a casual conversation.
When the boat begins climbing onto the plane, the engine’s noise level is going to climb higher. It will reach the 70s before quickly climbing into the 80s when the boat hits cruising speeds. When the boat experiences wide-open throttling, the noise levels will reach 90 decibels.
Just remember that some boats are louder than others. With some boats, the noise level can reach as high as 100 decibels. You’ll also have to worry about wind noise when operating a vessel since it will send the noise level much higher. What can you do to avoid the risks involved?
How can boaters protect themselves when operating a boat? Ultimately, there are several things you can do to offset the problem. For instance, you need to make sure that you’re taking regular breaks. The Coast Guard tends to limit its employees to shifts of four hours to prevent fatigue.
With that being said, you should do everything you can to reduce your helm time. For the best results, you should avoid being at the helm for more than three hours. Once you’ve been at the helm for two or three hours, you should stop what you’re doing and take a break.
Once you’ve relaxed for a few hours, you’ll be ready to drive again.
The Boat’s Noises
When operating a boat, you’re going to experience noise from several locations. For instance, there is a good chance that you’ll experience noise from the engine and water hitting the hull. Both of these things can create loud noises.
The biggest noise contributor is the engine. Your boat’s engine is going to produce a loud noise when the boat is operating. Today’s engines are quieter than they were many years ago, but it is still going to be very loud. When operating a boat, you may want to consider wearing earplugs. This is a good way to minimize the boat’s noise and avoid risks.
Another contributor is the wind. If your boat has an open helm, you’re going to experience loud noises. When the wind is blowing toward you, you’ll hear it. You won’t be able to ignore the wind noise. Finally, you’ll have to worry about the water hitting the hull. This resistance can create vibration and noise. Combine all of these noise sources together and you’ll experience issues along the way.
Combining Boat Noises With Others
Although boats are loud, you’ll find that they’re not as loud as other activities. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to compare your boat’s noises to other activities so you’ll know what to expect. For instance, a boat can reach 90 or 100 decibels.
It depends on the boat’s engine and the model. How does that stack up to the alternatives? Well, a vacuum cleaner typically operates at 75 dB. Then, you have a washing machine that will run at 78 dbA.
A diesel truck will operate at 85 dbA while a jackhammer can reach 98 dbA. When a jet flies at 100 feet, it can produce as much as 103 dbA. Going to a concert can be very loud with some bands reaching 118 dbA.
Primary Boating Stressors
Boaters are exposed to various stressors with noise being one of the most important. However, there are others. You’ll also need to take steps to protect yourself from vibration, wind, the motion of the water, glare, and sun.
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