The EPA's Noise Effects Handbook states that excessive noise can create distraction and mental fatigue that can impair workers' judgment and reduce morale. At certain levels, constant noise pollution can interfere with necessary business communications or even drown out safety alarms. A noisy workplace environment places stress on employees, who must find ways to work around the impediment.
Noise pollution at sufficient levels can lead to noise-induced hearing loss, according to the UCLA Health Impact Assessment. Excessive noise can have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system and long- and short-term memory.
A study conducted at the University of Michigan’s Occupational Health Nursing Program found that chronic noise in the workplace caused an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, heart disease still affects men more than woman with a ratio of 119 males for every 100 females affected.
Additionally, excessive noise can affect the emotional well-being of employees and cause them to be more moody or even depressed. Keeping workplace noise to a minimum whenever possible can help increase the health of your workers.
Importantly, males in industrialised societies, such as Australia, are less inclined than women to take an active role in maintaining their own health and receive far less messages, than women do, concerning the importance of their health and wellbeing. They are also less likely to seek professional help for problems, particularly those of an emotional nature.
Some of the social and cultural reasons for this include:
In industries that are generally male-dominated, such as mining and construction, noise can be a real issue for the wellbeing of men, especially if they are less willing to speak up than their female counterparts. This is why it is so important for employers to make sure men are not being forgotten and that their health is monitored regularly.
Regular audiometric testing and occupational noise assessments should be regularly undertaken, monitored and managed so that noise issues are minimised, thereby reducing the likelihood of stress and mental health.
So keep an eye on those men in the workplace who seem to grin and bear it! It is not brave to do so, but is unfortunately the Western World's way.
For more information on audiometric testing and occupational noise assessments, refer to the factsheets below:
Occupational Noise Factsheet