The Need for Noise-Control
Health and safety is often thought of in terms of rogue sharp edges, hazardous walkways, stairway bannisters, or ensure the nuts and bolts of the company are all safe and sound and where they need to be. However, there is one aspect of health and safety that is seldom thought about, and which can’t be seen but is in many ways just as high-risk as any aspect of the workplace, perhaps even more so when spread over many years or decades, and that is: noise control.
The dangers of exposure to high levels of noise are well-founded, but the causes are often thought to be every day and individual things such as attending concerts, listening to MP3 players on a high volume, or not protecting your eyes when riding a loud motorcycle or working with tools; activities that are down to the individual. However, this isn’t always the case, with many workplaces producing dangerous levels of noise that can have a serious effect on a company’s performance and the health of its employees.
Loss of Hearing
The most common side effect of exposure to loud noise is loss of hearing, especially if subjected to the noise for many years. The worrying aspect of losing one’s hearing is that it can never be retrieved, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Though technological advancements improve people’s hearing, these are troublesome and can be expensive. It is an employer’s duty to protect the health of his or her employees, and this includes ensuring their ears are protected from long-term damage.
A workplace exposed to high levels of noise is unlikely to be a happy workplace. This is because humans have a low tolerance for loud noises, and the exposure to such can place a psychological stress on the employee that can cause unhappiness and aggression between colleagues. If your employees are showing signs of aggression without any identifiable cause, it’s worth considering whether the audio and visual style of your workplace is to blame. If so, all that is needed is a simple alteration to have your employees happy and healthy once more.
One of the more immediately threatening aspects of having a noisy workplace is that it could prevent employees from hearing alarms, fire or otherwise, or prevent them from hearing the shouts of warning from others. While it might seem difficult to minimize noise in an industrial workplace, there are steps you can take to reduce noise levels. And, as these workplaces are usually the ones that have the most dangerous equipment, ensuring your employees can hear one another is of paramount importance, especially since the consequences could be so tragic.
Equally, in workplaces that have hazardous materials or dangerous equipment it is important that the worker is able to fully concentrate on the task they have been assigned, and recognize that loud noise can have a significant effect on a person’s ability to concentrate. While the threat might seem distant, it’s important that employees, especially, as said, those who handle troublesome materials or equipment, are able to think clearly without being interrupted by noise.
Tackling the Issue
You don’t have to accept a noisy workplace. If it’s not essential that there be noise (e.g. there is no heavy duty machinery), then do your best to weed out the causes of loud noise. This can be as simple as asking everyone to be considerate when working, or by unplugging any noisy devices when not in use. If there are particular areas that are noisy, limit the time employees spend in these spaces.
Of course, some workplaces are noisy and that can’t be helped. However, you can still do your best to reduce the noise level. You can do this by installing noise mufflers, maintaining your equipment (old equipment tend to be noisier), or by moving the noisiest equipment away from the majority of workers. You can also make it a company practice to buy sound-reduced machinery in the future. In the meantime, you can provide employees with routine ear check-ups to ensure they’re not being affected and provide them with ear muffs or other noise reducing items while they work. The new problems of hearing are only just starting to be fully understood by the scientific community, so do your part and help your employees while they’re being investigated.
this is a freelance article from Gemma Warrick