Why loud noise can be a workplace hazard

Not all workplace injuries occur as a result of slip and falls or other physical impacts to the body. Sometimes a California workplace may actually be too noisy for its workers. According to OSHA, each year 22 million workers are subjected to workplace noise levels that can damage their hearing. If left unchecked, this kind of noise exposure can damage a worker’s hearing and possibly result in additional workplace hazards.

There are a number of signs that your workplace might be too noisy for human comfort. For one thing, you may have trouble communicating with your fellow employees. If a worker is within arm’s length of you, you should not have to shout to that worker to be heard. Also, upon leaving work, you might experience a humming or ringing sound in your ears. Additionally, you may lose some hearing temporarily when you depart your workplace.

OSHA’s health effects page describes these hearing problems as temporary, usually going away after a few minutes or hours after leaving the source of the noise. It is when you are constantly exposed to loud noise that this becomes a problem. For example, ringing in the ears may extend for much longer, even permanently. Additionally, victims of loud noise can also lose their ability to hear well. Excessive noise levels can damage your ability to hear sounds at high frequencies, understand the speech of others, and overall impair your ability to communicate.

Just being around loud noise is a major problem for workplace activities. It can increase your stress level both physically and psychologically, make it hard to communicate or concentrate, and reduce worker productivity. Furthermore, a diminished ability to communicate also makes it hard to perceive warning signals. Someone may shout to you to watch for an oncoming vehicle or a siren may sound to warn of a machine malfunction, but damaged hearing may make it hard to hear these warning signs. In short, loud noise may end up contributing to other physical workplace accidents that need not have occurred otherwise.

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