Noise in Industry and Work

Many people spend more time at work than they do in any other environment.

Conditions at work therefore have a very profound influence on:

  1. productivity at work
  2. staff health and wellbeing

It is for this reason that there are laws covering noise in the workplace. The HSE considers that there may be around 1 million people in the UK at risk of hearing damage at work. And the need to protect your hearing is not just for heavy industry – employers should also manage noise in the service industry.

Noise Sources at Work

Some sources of noise to be aware of at work:

  • General background noise (music, noise from staff, telephones, music or machines…..)
  • Noise from particular machines at work (noise from forges, stamps, presses, coffee machines, compressors, telephones, bottling or production lines…..)
  • Noise from particular events at work (noise from telephone feedback, dropping materials, accidents and mistakes, hammering, sirens, explosions & bags….)

Roles at Risk

Staff in the following roles may be particularly at risk:

  • Bouncers and bar staff – prolonged exposure to loud music
  • Telephone and call centre operatives – extended periods with headsets in background noise
  • Skilled labour and machinists – machinery and piece-work noise
  • Casual labourers – unexpected and infrequent noise trauma
  • Builders and craftspeople – specialised equipment and handtools
  • Garage mechanics and motorsport technicians – motors and unsilenced engines
  • Aviation ground staff and loaders – jet noise at close range
  • Process staff and food prepers – constant background machinery and process noise
  • Police and military – from unexpected noise, malicious noise, sirens and gunshots

Sectors that Create Noise

The website www.industrialdeafness.org.uk  lists the following sectors as being particularly susceptible to noise (the comments in brackets are ours)

    • Call centres (prolonged exposure to high headset volumes and sudden trauma from feedback and faulty connections)
    • Construction (machinery noise and drops/bangs)
    • Engineering (machinery noise, milling, lathe work and sheet metal, for example)
    • Factories (background noise, compressors and traffic)
    • Furniture manufacturing (nail guns, hammering)
    • Foundries (alarms, sirens, background noise
    • Heavy fabrication (cropping, grinding, welding and background noise)
    • Machinery and equipment manufacture (specialist machinery and production lines)
    • Mills (noise from grinding, looms and other process machinery)
    • Mining (heavy machinery & drills or explosions in enclosed spaces)
    • Motor vehicles (noise from running engines, garage work, compressors)
    • Music (extended exposure to high levels of environmental noise)
    • Rubber and plastics (noise from pumps, rams, mixing machinery)
    • Shipbuilding (sheet metal, specialist machinery, welding and grinding)
    • Textile manufacturing (looms, specialist machinery and sewing)
    • Quarrying (explosions, drills and heavy machinery)

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