The noise in school canteens is deafening. Facilities are possible but the ideal is to reduce the sound.
Make dozens of children, happy to be able to let go after class and fill their hungry belly, group them in a tiled room, preferably in a large volume with lots of windows, and observe the result.
Or rather, listen! In most school canteens, the noise is simply deafening. To the point of turning what should be a « break » lunch into « test » lunch , generating stress and excitement at the exit, not to mention the poor quality of the meal taken under such conditions.
« It is often the staff of the canteen who calls or parents who ask the elected officials to act. » Based in particular on texts, because there is a regulation. Unfortunately for the employees, it does not protect them much because « they must not be confronted with more than 80 decibels »but that on average, in their working day. A figure rarely reached because it is an average, it does not take into account the « peak » of the meal and the level obviously decreases with the time of preparation and cleaning.
For children, it’s different. No maximum noise level of exposure is fixed but the building must meet standards. More an obligation of means than of results.
You must first begin by demonstrating a little pedagogy to explain the properties of the sound, how it is diffused, amplified …
« The overall sound level depends on four main factors: the behavior of the students, their distribution in space, the conditions of propagation between the tables and the reverberation of the room. »
The experts can intervene on the structure and can thus act directly on two levers: the projection between the tables and the reverberation of the room, by advising a better distribution of the children.
An educational ear to « see » the noise?
But without being able to perform miracles, because the ideal is of course to start by reducing the sound to the source, working on the behavior of children.A good principle, not necessarily easy to apply to children in good shape and limited staff that has a service to manage and schedules to meet.
There are however « small tools » like these electronic panels to hang in height representing an ear that lights up in green, orange or red depending on the number of decibels reached.
A good way to help children « see » the noise they make and self-discipline to go green or at least, do not exceed the orange.
By arming yourself with patience at the beginning because a passing counter-effect is often observed. Players by nature, children may be tempted to engage in a contest of shouting to turn the ear to red! Fortunately, it only lasts a long time!
In terms of decibels, the threshold of pain for the ear is set to 120 dB.
In a canteen , the level sometimes rises up to 90 dB, 10 dB more than a vacuum cleaner en route!
This sound level, professionals support it two to three hours each day in the canteen, not counting the moments of recreation or class!
There is no doubt that acoustic treatment is essential in this type of environment.
These nuisances, repeated daily, only increase the sensitivity to noise and generate staff stress reactions as in children .
There are various effects, of which here is a non-exhaustive list:
- The obligation to force the voice to be heard by the children.
- The constant feeling of stress not to be heard and respected in the canteen.
- The feeling of deep fatigue at the end of the day.
- The difficulty hearing and understanding children and people who gravitate (hearing and deafness problems can also be caused due to noise).
- The feeling of being less available .
- Among staff, it is estimated that 11% of work-related accidents and 15% of lost work days are due to excessive noise levels.
The health of the staff in the canteens is sometimes even greatly affected, since the noise causes 20% of the psychiatric internments!Save your ears
Your ears and those of professionals are just as precious as those of children!
So, consider adopting some practices to reduce noise in canteens:
- Ensure as much as possible quiet activities with children
- Suggest to change the furniture to reduce one of the sources of noise
- Make children aware that the noise is bad for them.
- Change the layout of the canteen to create different spaces separated by trellises
- Add acoustic panels to walls or suspended from ceilings to reduce sound reverberation
- A too high sound level in canteens is dangerous for your health, that of staff and those of your children. Take the necessary measures to fight against noise pollution.