There are four main categories of industrial activity that are particularly relevant to the study of noise: product fabrication, product assembly, power generation, and processing. Noise is generated in all of these activities, with the majority occurring at the lower end of the frequency spectrum. While people around an industrial facility and the people within it are both affected by industrial noise, it is the workers within the plant that generally bear the brunt of most of it (view image).

Product fabrication, the first category of industrial activity, can be a highly noisy operation. In metal fabrication, the cutting, shearing, pressing, and riveting of metal products can be very noisy. For example, Bugliarello et al. (1976) report that "riveting a large steel structure" (p. 221) can produce noise levels greater than 130 dB. Molding, another type of product fabrication, can also be highly noisy with its use of high-pressure air in the operation, pneumatic control, and cooling of molding machinery. Plastic molding has been reported to produce noise at levels greater than 100 dB. (Bugliarello et al.)

The second category of industrial activity, product assembly, also produces dangerous noise levels. The activities within this category often produce broad-band noise that includes high levels of higher-frequency noise due to the operation of electric and pneumatic tools, such as grinders and impact wrenches. (Bugliarello et al.)

Most of the noise emitted in power generation, the third industrial category, is produced by turbine generators and air compressors, though some noise also derives from devices such as fans and blowers. Processing, the final industrial category, includes activities such as oil refinery. Major sources of noise in this category are furnaces, heat exchangers, pumps, compressors, and air and steam leaks. (Bugliarello et al.)

Miller (1979b) also discusses industrial noise production, and lists "motor noise, fan noise, transformer noise, aerodynamic noise, hydraulic system noise, impact noise, bearing noise, gear noise, [and] vibration-induced noise" (p. 26-1) as examples of noise due to industrial machinery. A list of specific examples of industrial noise sources and their relevant noise levels is included below.

Specific sources of industrial noise:

(adapted from Bugliarello et al., 1976, p. 221)

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