Noise damage leads to health issues

Noise is one of the few environmental pollutants that continues to increase. Noise has gone from a comfort issue to a source for a set of health problems and chronic illnesses.

Noise is a danger to hearing and increases the risk for accidents

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs due to excessive noise damaging the inner ear's hearing mechanism and is the most common occupational health condition in the world. The higher the noise level and the longer you are exposed to it, the greater the risk of injury. The effects can lead to temporary or permanent hearing damage. At work, noise can lead to accidents due to limited speech communication, misunderstanding of verbal instructions, and covering sounds of warnings and imminent dangers. When working in, for example, workshops or construction activities, the Swedish Work Environment Authority has a recommended limit value of 75 decibels in order not to affect speech clarity.

Construction machinery is a common source of harmful noise

A globally recognized health problem

WHO classifies noise as one of the major environmental causes of death in the EU, only surpassed by air pollution. Noise negatively impacts several health aspects and has a central impact on public health. According to WHO, 1.6 million "healthy" years are lost each year due to noise exposure. This includes both people who die prematurely, but also people who go from good health to living a disabled life with permanent damage caused by noise.

The consequences of noise are more than hearing impairment

In addition to permanently reducing a person's hearing, overexposure to noise can lead to tinnitus, which in turn leads to both disturbed sleep and affected speech. Noise also affects the body, for example through increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and release of stress hormones. In Sweden, about 800 people are estimated to die prematurely each year from cardiovascular problems caused by noise stress, which is more than fatalities in traffic accidents. The higher levels of stress it causes lead to numerous physical and mental health consequences. WHO points out that noise can also be associated with obesity and that it increases the risk of blood clots.

A quarter of Europe is exposed to noise during working hours

In 2000, 29% of workers in the EU and 35% in the new Member States stated that they were exposed to loud noise at least a quarter of the time and 11% at all times. Every day, around two million Swedes are exposed to noise levels above the benchmarks set by the Swedish Work Environment Authority. Noise can be found in all types of workplaces, but it is in industries where noisy tools and machinery are used, the risk of injury is the greatest. These industries for example agriculture, mining, metalworking, and not least construction. Some of the most common sources of noise are heavy machinery and means of transportation, electric tools such as circular saws or pneumatic tools such as drills and grinders. Noise can interfere with concentration and make work tasks more tiring. This, in turn, can lead to poorer performance and lower quality of work.

Ground personnel at airports are exposed to noise above 140 dB daily

Noisy work environments require hearing protection

The Swedish Work Environment Authority has different requirements based on the level of noise in the workplace. For example, if the average noise during a working day is 85 decibels or more, the employer is required to ensure that hearing protectors are used, as well as to offer regular hearing examinations. Employees should be given the opportunity to participate in the issues to which the requirements apply and in particular the choice of hearing protection. Hearing protection must reduce the noise to a level where you can still perceive calls or warning signals. There are different hearing protectors to meet different kinds of needs. Some hearing protection only suppress the noise while others actively counteract it.

Read more about how Guardio Auris provides increased hearing protection with active noise reduction.

The professions that are exposed to the loudest noise

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