Empirical Study of Room Acoustic Conditions and Neurophysiologic Strain in Staff Working in Special Open-Plan Bank Offices
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Noise in open-plan offices induces psychological stress and fatigue in staff. Focusing on workstations and noise exposure, this study investigated acoustic conditions in special open-plan offices and their relationship with neurophysiologic strain. Twenty banks and 104 participants were randomly selected. Acoustic properties of banks and workstation partitions were assessed using the ISO criteria and speech transmission index (STI). Equivalent noise level (LAeq) of the staff was measured in three 30-min intervals, and skin conductance level (SCL) and respiratory rate (RR) of staff were assessed in three 5-min intervals at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the work hours. The intelligibility of speech between staff workstations (SW) was better than that between staff and clients (S&C). The observed condition should be reversed to ensure speech privacy for the staff and speech intelligibility between the staff and clients. The findings indicated that with increasing LAeq of the staff, the SCL and RR, i.e., the stress of staff increased too. Yet, the staff with more work experience showed a lower increase in SCL. The correlation between STI and staff strain was not statistically significant; however, with increasing STI between SW and with decreasing STI between S&C, the staff strain increased. With increasing noise exposure, psychological stress of the staff increased too. Because of the acoustic condition and partitions used in the banks, the acoustic comfort of staff was not desirable. Since many other banks use such partitions, any improvement in partitions between workstations can enhance acoustic comfort in the banks.
KeywordsAcoustic properties Open-plan office Bank Neurophysiologic strains Workstation partitions
The authors would like to thank Hamadan University of Medical Sciences for the financial support (Grant Number: 9511267308). Additionally, the authors thank the administrative and staff of Bank Melli Iran for their contribution. This study was approved by the Ethical Committee for Research in Hamadan University of Medical Sciences.
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