Non Auditory Effects of Occupational Noise

Occupational Noise exposure results in two groups of health effects namely auditory health effects and non-auditory health effects. Non-auditory effects have not been fully researched and are largely misunderstood. These effects are also often overlooked by Occupational Hygienists when health risk assessments and monitoring surveys are performed as they are seen as “softer” less important effects caused by other stressors as well as individual lifestyle choices. Although we do not know the full impact of all the health effects involved with noise exposure current research does indicate the following effects that cannot and should not be ignored when considering your employees’ health in their work environment:

  •  Increased incidence of stress
  • Changes in psychological behaviour
    • anxiety
    • decreased reading comprehension
    • decreased attention span and memory
    • problem solving difficulties
    • post work irritability
    • impatience
    • nervousness
    • inability to unwind
  • Changes in behavioural patterns
    • increased aggressiveness
    • decreased helping behaviour
    • problems with interpersonal relationships
    • communication disruptions which creates safety risks
  • Physiological changes to the body
    • hypertension
    • ischemic heart disease
    • annoyance and loss of concentration
    • sleep disturbance
    • changes in the  immune system
    • headaches
    • birth defects (suspected)

Other than the typical controls that are recommended by Occupational
Hygienists for noise exposure reduction (those following the Hierarchy of
Controls), individuals who are exposed to noise at levels both above and below
85 dB(A) and who experience the secondary effects as mentioned above can
consider making the following changes to their lifestyle to reduce the
experience of these negative effects

  •  Release of stress hormones by exercising
    • exercise also releases the bodies’ natural pain killers and hormones that increase ones general sense of wellbeing
  • Reduce tension through the practice of
    • relaxation
    • muscle relaxing exercise
    • breathing regulation exercises
    • meditative type activities