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SCIENTIFIC COUNSEL

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The Interrelation of Acoustics and the Law · Questions about acoustics frequently arise in land use planning, product liability, workman’s compensation, and compliance with local and federal land use regulations. Ostergaard Acoustical Associates provides information and support in all of these areas.  The type of scientific guidance appropriate to each area is different.

Land Use Planning, State and Federal Regulation Compliance · Ostergaard Acoustical Associates determines the acoustical emissions of a proposed or existing project using measurements and proven models for noise production and propagation. This allows the suitability of a project to be evaluated against objective criteria.  The firm often carries out pre-construction noise surveys which allows assessment of the potential change in ambient noise levels.  Ostergaard Acoustical Associates also evaluates the anticipated community response according to a standard measure proposed by the EPA, as well as compliance with state, local, and federal regulations.  We prepare environmental noise impact statements and provide specific recommendations and methods to reduce noise impact.

In cases where a project requires local variances, when defensible, Ostergaard Acoustical Associates prepares testimony in support of such applications, and prepares our client with appropriate questions with which to examine opposing witnesses on noise issues.

We also serve as the acoustical engineer to government agencies and assist in the development of technically defensible ordinances.

Accident Reconstruction · A common issue in litigation related to injury or death is the adequacy of warning signals.  Ostergaard Acoustical Associates determines warning signal detectability in the presence of other noise.  Standard measures of detectability are used and the distance at which the signal is detectable (in railroad crossing accidents for example) or the time for which they are detectable (for moving vehicles) is calculated.  These times can then be compared with recommendations of standard safety practices in order to calculate warning signal efficacy in the situation at hand.

Product Liability · For product liability litigation, Ostergaard Acoustical Associates supports plaintiff or defense counsel with measurements of noise emissions of the product.  Testing is carried out with instruments traceable to the National Institute for Standards and Technology Transfer(formerly National Bureau of Standards) according to appropriate national and international standards.

Ostergaard Acoustical Associates evaluates the potential hearing hazard from products and the potential for interference with communications and warning signals.  Through engineering analysis Ostergaard Acoustical Associates determines if a noise-generating product should have or could have been mitigated. If mitigation is possible and necessary, conclusions can be made as to whether a prudent design engineer should have been aware of the need for such mitigation.

In cases related to warning devices, Ostergaard Acoustical Associates evaluates the adequacy of the warning signal for given environments by analyzing its audibility.

Workman’s Compensation · Ostergaard Acoustical Associates provides screening of claims for compensation for hearing loss according to the procedures of International Standard ISO 1999, Determination of Occupational Noise Exposure and Estimation of Noise Induced Hearing Impairment.  This procedure provides an estimate of the probability that a demonstrated hearing impairment results from a specific occupational  exposure.  As such, we provide attorneys with an objective basis on which to decide whether to prosecute or to settle a claim.

Where claims are contested, Ostergaard Acoustical Associates provides support to demonstrate both the functional extent of impairment and the absolute degree of the hearing loss.  The ability of the claimant to listen in noisy environments is compared with the ability of unimpaired individuals to hear under the same circumstances.  Simulations of each of these may be presented in compensation hearings.

We also have implemented hearing conservation programs for employers and evaluated existing programs.