NIOSH Evaluates Smartphone Sound Measurement Apps

After testing, NIOSH only approved four iOS smartphone sound measurement apps as meeting NIOSH standards

Contractors might not often think of it, but they need to be aware of and incorporating hearing safety into their jobsites. We all know construction sites are loud environments with all the tools and equipment working on the site. There are now a number of smartphone apps available claiming to measure sound levels allowing the user to measure how loud a jobsite is.

Video: Construction Safety - Hearing Protection

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently put some of those sound measurement apps to the test. NIOSH selected apps to test based on their "ability to measure occupationally relevant sound level values". The test included 130 iOS apps and 62 Android apps. Of the iOS apps, only 10 met NIOSH's criteria selection, and only four Android apps met the criteria for testing. Since the Android test pool was so small NIOSH concluded that a comprehensive experimental design and analysis was only possible for the iOS apps.

Protecting Yourself from Noise in Construction

According to NIOSH, "The use of smartphone sound measurement apps can have a tremendous and far-reaching impact in the areas of noise research and noise control in the workplace as every smartphone can be potentially turned into a dosimeter or a sound level meter. However, in order for smartphone apps to gain acceptance in the occupational environment, the apps must meet certain minimal criteria for functionality, accuracy, and relevancy to the users in general and the worker in particular."

NIOSH concluded that Noise Hunter, NoiSee and SoundMeter were within the accuracy requirements for A-weighted sound level measurements, and NoiSee, SoundMeter and SPLnFFT were within the requirements for unweighted sound level measurements. Of these four apps the study concluded SoundMeter had the best results.

Read the full NIOSH study