A recent article from Kip Serfozo in Food Service Magazine has drawn attention to the problem that kitchens are traditionally one of the noisiest working environments. The story very quickly debunks the idea the kitchen must be a noise chamber and suggests it is the way we design our kitchens and the equipment we buy which is what causes the biggest noise impact problems.
There are currently many innovative product designers who are trying to lead the way in the designing of silent kitchens. It may seem impossible, but having quiet kitchens, especially in the industrial sector is said to improve the productivity of staff and their overall work health and safety. Builders and some specialty trades already have noise protection in place, whether its part of their work attire or hours spent near loud machinery.
People who work in commercial kitchens, on the other hand, are seldom given auditory relief from appliances which may be harming their ears and overall quality of health.
In kitchens where lower levels of noise have been trialed, there have been fewer accidents reported and an overall higher level of satisfaction from customers in the dining areas.
The four main causes of noise in a large kitchen include the dishes and dishwashing, the ventilation hood above stoves, blenders or beater and finally, pots and pans.
Noise travels the easiest in a straight line because it will use the least amount of energy. Often kitchens are designed in one long rectangular shape, but this makes them echo chambers. Try to not have a direct line between the kitchen door and the rest of the restaurant, bar or club. An alcove or turning corridor is the most ideal to insulate sound. You should also try to seal all the door in rubber, of course, checking they meet food and safety standards.
The materials on the floor and walls of the kitchen also have a significant impact on the noise levels. Anti-fatigue mats were designed to reduce the amount of stress on the human body when people have to stay on their feet for long shifts. These squishy floor coverings are also very useful in absorbing noise in commercial kitchens.
Putting plants on the wall is another easy way to have sound absorbed in a space. Perhaps you could grow fresh herbs in the kitchen and cut out the chatter of your staff at the same time.
Reducing the sound of the equipment in the kitchen can be one of the hardest tasks because it is dependent on how much space the establishment has to relocate some of the noisest items. These include fridges, freezers and especially ice-makers which all let out a constant sound. Removing them from the immediate kitchen and putting them in a back storeroom or other room can illuminate much of the unpleasant 'buzz' which often fills a kitchen.
Staff training is also a very important feature in reducing kitchen noise. It has been proven that in kitchens where staff communicate through headsets, nobody ever has to raise their voice to compete with external noises. Often, staff receive messages easier and are able to be more efficient in their work.
NoiseNet can offer its noise monitoring services to find out how much noise is impacting your commercial kitchen. We can also help suggest implementable solutions. www.noisenet.com.au