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  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)

Sign up to our newsletter