Sound Masking

What is sound masking?
Sound masking is the addition of an unobtrusive airflow-like background sound to a workspace.  Similar to “white noise” this sound will cover or “mask” conversations in adjacent spaces.

Imagine you are in a darkened room and a child is flicking a flashlight on and off. The light is noticeable. Now imagine that the lights are on. The same flashlight is now unnoticed; it has been masked. This is how sound masking works.

The sound produced by masking systems mirrors the frequencies of human speech for optimal masking of conversations.

Who needs sound masking?
Sound masking will improve acoustical comfort in virtually any workspace, including:

  • Open cubicle areas: where distracting conversations affect productivity
  • Private offices, exam rooms & counseling areas: where confidentiality is required
  • Banks, pharmacies and waiting areas: where sensitive information is shared
  • Doctors’, Dentists’ and other practitioners’ offices: where privacy is essential in confined environments
  • Libraries and other quiet spaces: where, because of the lack of background noise, every sound is distracting

Why Use Sound Masking?
It’s too noisy.
It’s too quiet.
People are overhearing my private conversations.

These common complaints are indications of a sound problem due to poor workplace acoustics.  All can be addressed with a properly designed sound masking system.

The ABC’s of Workplace Acoustics
Solve building acoustics issues using three simple guidelines.

[note color=”#eefea2″] A = Absorb sound (usually via ceiling tile).
B = Block sound (via workstation panels, wall placement and workspace layout).
C = Cover sound (via sound masking).[/note]

The Best Solution to Your Sound Problem
A layered approach is optimal, although Covering with sound masking leads to the most dramatic improvements in speech privacy, and typically at the lowest cost.

Higher cubicles, rearranging your workspace and building full-height walls are also solutions to workplace noise issues, but the addition of a sound masking system is the most cost-effective path to improved workplace acoustics.

Case Studies

By April 2003 all healthcare facilities and institutions must demonstrate that they have “reasonably safeguard[ed] protected health information (PHI) — including oral information — from any intentional or unintentional use or disclosure that is in violation of the rule, see §164.530(c) (2)” — the U.S. Office of Civil Rights.HIPAA Privacy Rules require implementation of administrative, technical, and physical means to safeguard protected patient health information, including oral communications. Oral privacy can be precisely defined by existing standards from the International Standards Organization (ISO), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). The standards can provide a framework within which Chief Compliance Officers can demonstrate compliance with HIPAA and GLBACompliance with HIPAA and GLBA regulations is one of the most important reasons that medical offices should consider utilizing sound masking technology to insure, among other things, that conversations remain private.Here are some articles explaining HIPAA requirements regarding privacy:
HIPAA and Oral Communications By Hannah Fiske, Editor Everyone is talking about compliance. Privacy and security of medical information is THE hot topic in health care at the moment. But just because you have installed the latest security devices to protect your electronic and paper-based medical records systems, does not mean it is time to relax, for there is another issue waiting for attention. In fact, many in the health care industry may find their attention captured by a little-discussed aspect of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): oral communications. More
HIPAA Quiz: What is “Oral Privacy”? By David M. Sykes and Susan A. Miller, JD Most healthcare professionals have barely noticed this part of HIPAA. But you’d better learn fast: the deadline is still April 2003. More
HIPAA FAQ: Little-known “F.A.Q.s” about HIPAA More
Recognized Standards Related to Predicting, Evaluating and Measuring Speech Intelligibility and Privacy Parameters

Want To Learn More?