Are Noisy Workplaces Creating More Stress For Workers?
In our North American “stressed out” society are noisy workplaces creating more stress for workers spending large portions of their day exposed to high levels of noise? Nearly 30 – 50 Million Americans are exposed to dangerously high levels of workplace noise, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication disorders, NIDCD.
Cara James, executive director of the American Tinnitus Association states that “Workplace noise exposure is a growing national health issue that seriously jeopardizes the long-term well-being of workers and the overall productivity of businesses”
The American Institute of Stress (AIS) states that “Job stress is costly: Job Stress carries a price tag for U.S. industry estimated at over $300 billion annually as a result of:
- Employee turnover
- Diminished productivity
- Direct medical, legal and insurance costs
- Workers compensation awards as well as tort and FELA judgments” 1
Stress including noise stress is individual and workers will react differently to similar workplace stress.
Recognizing that different people will have different tolerance levels for noise helps guide both the worker and the employer to go above and beyond the currently set standards for noise protection. The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)’s daily permissible noise level exposure ranges from 8 hours per day at a sound level exposure of 85dBA to 0.25 or less hours per day at 100dBA sound level exposure. These are guidelines for permissible levels affecting noise related hearing loss. How would the added stress related concerns of noise exposure impact the workers overall health?
Noise protection for workers benefits both the employer and the employee.
Both employers and employees should recognize the importance of noise protection within the work environment. Not only would workers be more productive, be less exposed to accidents and hearing loss concerns but less noise induced stress would contribute to more employee satisfaction on the job with less employee turnover.
Responsibility for protecting workers from high levels of noise is not only beneficial to employers from a legal perspective but also beneficial for increased satisfaction of workers in the work environment and increased productivity for the company. Providing proper screening for hearing loss and access to hearing protection devices personally suited for individual workers has powerfully positive benefits.
Workers can also take responsibility by being aware and taking steps to protect themselves from the stress and damaging affects of dangerous levels of noise. Ensure that you are using hearing protection devices that are best suited to your work environment, comfortable for you to wear and protective not only for your hearing protection but also for the degree of noise stress that you are personally able to work in.
Hearing protection for both noise induced hearing loss and stress reduction is a benefit of far reaching implications providing wins for both employers and employees!