Workplace Noise

This page is sponsored by E. I. Williams.

Scottish Research Team Studies Hospital Noise (Apr. 12, 2000). The Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail reports that a group of researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland are studying whether high noise levels in hospitals are adversely affecting patient recovery times and increasing nurses' stress levels. Part of the study will include installing special sound-absorbing ceilings to see if they make a difference.

OSHA Plans to Design Hearing Rules for Construction Industry (Apr. 10, 2000). The Engineering News-Record reports that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is finally extending their 1983 hearing loss rule to include the construction industry. Charles N. Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, made this announcement at a recent conference in Washington, DC on jobsite noise and hearing loss. The conference was sponsored by the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America, OSHA, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Noise Exposure and Hearing Loss Education Needed (Apr. 3, 2000). The Plain Dealer printed an article that first appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The article reports on how noise exposure can result in hearing loss.

Canadian Hunter's Guide, Widely Distributed to Children, Makes No Mention of Importance of Ear Protection (Mar. 31, 2000). The Toronto Star in Canada reports that the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the ministry of natural resources recently distributed a Hunter's Guide to Ontario schools. Nowhere in the guide was ear protection discussed. The Deafness Research Foundation says that shotgun blasts register at 130 decibels.

South Carolina's State Port Authority Noise Underestimated and Residents are Angry (Mar. 21, 2000). According to the Post and Courier, residents in a subdivision of Mt. Pleasant are angry at the State Ports Authority (SPA) over noise from the Wando Welch Terminal and the SPA's plans to expand the port.

Construction Industry Works With Federal Government to Ensure Worker Hearing Protection (Mar. 20, 2000). The Engineering News-Record reports that an upcoming conference in Washington, D.C. will discuss noise levels and hearing protection in the construction industry. Several government agencies are working toward enacting new rules for new rules that employers must adhere to, but many in the industry believe that new rules are not the answer. Instead, they think that worker education is the key to preserving life-long hearing.

Benefits of Active Noise Reduction Headsets in the Workplace (Mar. 1, 2000). Occupational Health and Safety reports that workers who are routinely subjected to long-term, low-frequency background noise such as vehicles, machinery, engines, large compressors, and air conditioning units are suffering many adverse health effects, particularly hearing loss.

Benefits of Uniform Attenuation Hearing Protection in the Workplace (Mar. 1, 2000). Occupational Health and Safety reports on the technical and scientific aspects of workplace noise and how it affects human hearing and communication.

Fifty Employees Working in Lincoln, Nebraska's Capitol Building Can Voluntarily Relocate Because of Construction Noise Levels (Jan. 8, 2000). The Associated Press State and Local Wire reports that a restoration project at Lincoln, Nebraska's capitol has proven so loud that fifty employees in the building have been given the option of relocating. The noise was measured at 82.5 decibels, just 2.5 decibels below the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's maximum of 85.

Quantum Hard Drive Manufacturer Introduces Quiet Drive Technology, Substantially Reducing Noise (Dec. 8, 1999). M2 Presswire reports that Quantum, a computer company, is now shipping the world's quietest hard drive as measured by an independent consultant.

Scottish Paper Notes Health Dangers of Noise (Nov. 20, 1999). The Scotsman prints an article relating to the health risks of noise exposure. While it talks about stress, high blood pressure, and other problems noted in many articles, it does talk about a few local statistics and specific disorders worth mentioning here.

Gillette, Wyoming Mine Officials Say New Noise Regulations Are Unfair (Nov. 19, 1999). The Denver Post reports that new regulations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) are being called unfair by mine officials in the Gillette, Wyoming area. The regulations call for a three-tiered "engineering, administration, and hearing protection" strategy, which officials say they are already following. They do say that they will be working on quieter mufflers and exhaust systems.

Trade Unions in Singapore Consolidate, Find Model in Cooperative Reduction of Occupational Noise Hazards (Nov. 18, 1999). The Straits Times reports that the consolidation of 17 trade unions in the engineering and finance industries in Singapore has resulted in two, stronger union groups. Proponents of the consolidation point to reductions in occupational noise hazards through the strength of the new groups.

Federal Health and Safety Officials Plan to Reconsider a Tougher Workplace Noise Standard for Construction Workers (Nov. 8, 1999). The Engineering News-Record reports that federal health officials are going to revisit the possibility of instituting a tougher workplace noise standard for construction work. The Associated General Contractors say although noise standards are tougher in Europe, OSHA should concentrate on injury regulations first.

Kennewick, Washington Audiologist Says On-the-Job Noise is Often the Cause of Hearing Loss (Oct. 15, 1999). The Associated Press State & Local Wire discusses hearing loss with expert Francis Aiello from the Columbia Basin Hearing Center. Aiello mentions several ways that recent patients have damaged their hearing. He also explains how hearing loss occurs, and notes that the average age for patients visiting the Center has decreased.

Mine Safety and Health Administration Issues New Standards to Protect Miners from Prolonged Exposure to Dangerous Noise (Sep. 9, 1999). The U.S. Newswire reports that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will now require mine operators to monitor noise exposure and also make training, hearing tests, and hearing protection available to miners who are exposed to more than an 85 decibel average over eight hours. Hearing loss is one of the top occupational hazards among miners, and may reduce safety in the workplace.

Phone-Answering Jobs in UK and Elsewhere May Be Dangerous to Employees' Hearing (Sep. 7, 1999). The Times reports that people who answer telephones for a living in the UK and elsewhere may be damaging their hearing. Workers, who often sit less than two feet apart in a noisy room with over 100 other employees, experience symptoms including tinnitus, rushing sounds, and certain frequencies that cause pain. Earphones must be turned up loud because of the noisy environment, and piercing beeps indicate when a call is about to come through. Also, unexplained noise shocks -- which reach 140 decibels -- sometimes come through earphones and may cause significant damage after even one exposure.

Construction at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Causes Too Much Noise; Cardiac Patients Were Given Only Earplugs, and Staff Were Subjected to the Noise Unprotected (Aug. 25, 1999). The Aberdeen Press and Journal reports that construction at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary has been stopped until a way can be found that reduces the noise that cardiac patients and staff have to endure. The only option proposed is moving the cardiac patients away from the noise but they must somehow remain close to cardiac equipment that is difficult to move.

U.S. General Accounting Office Audits International Space Station Project; One Noted Cost Is Mitigation of Russian Equipment Noise to Protect Astronauts from Hearing Damage (Aug. 17, 1999). The Federal Document Clearing House, Inc. prints a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office on the status of the International Space Station, including potentially damaging noise levels from Russian equipment. NASA and the Russian contractor are jointly working to reduce noise levels, but will fully implement the measures after the component is launched.

Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Suit Won Against General Electric, Who Failed to Monitor Employees' Noise Exposure (Aug. 16, 1999). The Pennsylvania Law Weekly reports that a 21-year employee of General Electric received "hearing-loss benefits" after a court ruled that the company did not sufficiently prove that the worker was not subjected to excessively loud noise. The employee's exposure was tested only once, when his co-workers tests showed that they were exposed to over 90 decibels. OSHA prohibits a decibel level of over 90 decibels over an eight-hour work day.

Traffic Policemen in India Subjected to Excessive Noise and Pollution (Aug. 16, 1999). The Hindu reports that in India, traffic police are exposed to high levels of noise and pollution. Many suffer from respiratory problems, and 'auto-rickshaws' with altered mufflers can damage hearing. Despite the prevalence of health problems, many police do not attend free check-ups offered to them. "Goggles, masks against dust, and ear protection" are being proposed as mandatory equipment for traffic police

Irish Soldier Receives Financial Award for Army-Related Hearing Loss (Jun. 16, 1999). The Irish Times reports a long-term Irish soldier successfully sued the Minister for Defense and State for the hearing loss he suffered while in the army.

Commonwealth Court Examines Hazardous Noise for Workers' Compensation (May 27, 1999). The Legal Intelligencer reports two cases in which the Commonwealth Court has looked at the circumstances where a Workers' Compensation Judge may review and consider the facts of a case.

Noise Levels Rise in Europe to Unhealthy Levels (Mar. 27, 1999). The Los Angeles Times reports noise is a problem in all major cities in Europe, and environmentalists and social scientists believe the shrieks and roars of urban life may cause serious long-term health effects.

Singapore Turns Noise, Air, and Land Pollution Rules into Law (Feb. 12, 1999). The Business Times (Singapore) reports the Singapore Parliament yesterday passed a new bill which gives the Ministry of the Environment (ENV) power to enforce many existing noise, air and ground pollution controls.

Snowmobile Debate in US Parks Goes National with Petition from Green Groups (Feb. 12, 1999). USA Today reports a coalition of environmental groups in the United Sates is calling for the ban of recreational snowmobiles in national parks, setting off a contentious debate covering issues from noise and pollution to local economies and civil rights.

Firm Designs Quiet Office Next to O'Hare Airport (Nov. 23, 1998). The Chicago Sun-Times reports a manufacturer of ceilings and walls has made its Chicago training center into a "shrine of soundproofing" in office park next to O'Hare International Airport.

Singapore Government Offers Awards to Quiet Companies (Oct. 18, 1998). The Straits Times (Singapore) reports Singapore's government will award companies who reduce noise levels.

European Study Shows City Noise Leads to Serious Ill Health Effects (Oct. 9, 1998). The Evening Standard reports Londoners were warned today that big city noise may be responsible for heart disease.

Residents of St. Charles, Missouri Rally to Stop Expansion of Lambert Field (Oct. 2, 1998). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports on citizen views and their efforts to stop the expansion of Lambert Field near St. Charles, Missouri.

Noise Mitigation Measures Needed in U.S. Schools to Reduce Interference with Learning (Jun. 22, 1998). The Portland Press Herald reports classroom noise and reverberation is a fundamental and little understood issue that interferes with learning at schools in Maine and across the nation, experts say.

Residents in Annapolis Area Concerned about Increasing Noise Sources (May 11, 1998). The Capital of Annapolis, Maryland, reports Anne Arundel County residents are exposed to ever increasing sources of noise. While many believe their world is too noisy, experts say it's all in how people perceive noise. The article provides an overview of noise standards, methods by which noise is measured, and some methods of noise mitigation.

Resident Alerts Public to Noise and Its Harmful Effects (Apr. 29, 1998). The Times-Picayune published the following letter alerting readers to the pervasiveness of noise and its harmful effects. The letter is from Metairie, Louisiana, resident, John Guignard. Guignard wrote:

Armstrong Makes Ceiling Tiles Certified to Reduce Noise in Workplace (Mar. 17, 1998). PR Newswire reports over 70% of U.S. office workers say their productivity would increase if their workspaces were less noisy (source: American Society of Interior Designers study). In addition, over 70% of today's office spaces are based on "open plan" environments, where the din of routine activities can negatively impact worker productivity. Given this, architects, facility managers and acoustical consultants need to ensure that the workspaces they design and build can provide the noise reduction levels required by the businesses they work for. And, for the first time, this is possible!

Study Available on Noise Control and Abatement in Transportation and Heavy Industrial Environments (Mar. 1, 1998). The Industrial Health & Hazards Update says that a report is available about noise control and abatement in the transportation industry and heavy industrial environments. The publication goes on to list what the report covers and how it can be obtained.

Washington, DC's Open Classrooms are Noisy Failures (Jan. 25, 1998). The Washington Post reports that students at Woodbridge High School in Prince William County can't focus because of the noise in classrooms designed without walls or doors. It's one of more than 140 Washington, DC, area schools built in the 1970s in an "open-classroom" design that failed quickly. Twenty-five years later, school districts are still living with the noise.

New Yorkers Number 1 Quality Of Life Complaint Is Noise (Dec. 29, 1997). The Daily News reports that New York City is doing little to reduce noise pollution even though noise is New Yorkers' No.1 quality of life issue.

Irish Employers Take Notice Of Growing Claims For Damaged Hearing From Work Related Noise (Dec. 5, 1997). The Irish Times reports that many businesses in Ireland are not aware of their vulnerability to claims for hearing loss.

Illinois Correctional Officer Awarded Disability Benefits for Work-Related Hearing Loss (Nov. 17, 1997). The Illinois Workers' Compensation Law Bulletin reports that a correctional officer was awarded permanent partial disability benefits by the Commission, after he suffered hearing loss and a constant, high-pitched tone when an inmate slammed a steel door next to his ear.

"Pink" Noise Will Be Piped In At American Stores Tower In Salt Lake City (Nov. 2, 1997). An extensive article appears in The Salt Lake Tribune about the impact 1,900 executive employees will make on downtown when they move into the American Stores high-rise tower in Salt Lake City, Utah, in January. Some downtown merchants see this major consolidation of company operations as having a positive impact on the downtown with increased shopping and spending. Business experts see this new conglomerate headquarters designed with its employees in mind as the wave of the future. The Salt Lake Tribune describes in detail the architectural design of the tower that accommodates such a large number of executives. One issue taken into consideration is blocking noise made by employees who work side-by-side in cubicles. "We've tried very hard to design a pleasant place where people want to come to work," American Stores engineer, Pete Bratsos explains.

Workers Sue Steel Company in Missouri Over Noise Levels that Caused Hearing Damage (Oct. 16, 1997). The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a lawsuit was filed recently in Madison County (Missouri) Circuit Court against Granite City Steel Co. by 200 workers who say they have hearing loss and that the company allowed noise levels to be about 50% higher than federal safety standards permit.

South Australian Government Will Monitor Noise Levels in Nightclubs (Sep. 9, 1997). AAP Newsfeed reports that the South Australian government will monitor noise levels in nightclubs, hotels, and at concert venues in a project that will seek to improve the health of workers in the entertainment and hospitality industries.

Maryland Schools Re-Think Open Classrooms Due to Noise Problems (Jun. 9, 1997). The Baltimore Sun reports that a shift in educational philosophy is prompting schools in the Baltimore, Maryland area to remodel open classrooms into conventional classrooms with walls. Many teachers and parents believe open classrooms cause too much noise and distraction for effective learning, the article reports.

Schools Near Airports May Debilitate Learning (May 20, 1997). The Washington Post reports that two environmental psychologists at Cornell University, Gary W. Evans and Lorraine Maxwell, have discovered that schoolchildren who are exposed to frequent airport noise do not learn to read well as schoolchildren who study in a quieter environment. Children exposed to excessive and repeated noise learn how to tune out noise, including speech. Impaired speech perception in turn hampers their ability to learn how to read.

Airlines Challenge San Francisco Benefits Law, Saying They Are Subject Only to Federal Laws (May 13, 1997). Business Wire reports in an industry press release that the Air Transport Association (ATA) today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco which challenges a local ordinance that would force U.S. airlines to offer employment benefits to the "domestic partners" of employees. ATA claims that airlines can only be governed by federal laws, not local laws. (Ed: This issue is relevant to airport noise issues because the airline industry uses the same arguments with respect to local noise ordinances as with San Francisco's domestic partner ordinance.)

Life Is Getting Noisier, As Measured By The Houston Chronicle (Apr. 27, 1997). The Houston Chronicle reports that it conducted its own noise level study around Houston, finding many places noisier than 85 decibels. A decibel reading higher than 85 decibels can cause hearing damage to the human ear, depending upon the length of exposure time. The Noise Center, a national organization that promotes noise awareness and hearing conservation, is sponsoring the second annual International Noise Awareness Day The day aims to get the world to observe a minute of silence at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.

International Noise Awareness Day in Toronto (Apr. 24, 1997). Annette Feige and Eric Greenspoon, members of the Citizens Coalition Against Noise, said that daily life is getting noisier, the Toronto Star reports. They are trying to bring national attention to the noise issue.

The Elimination of Government Agencies to Regulate Noise Pollution Leaves Citizens Unprotected (Sep.1 1990). "Proper functioning of the ear is vital to our well-being," according to an article in Utne Reader by Mary Morse. This article questions the wisdom of the elimination of noise regulations in a time of increasing health and environmental consciousness. After reaching its peak in the 1970s, the "hot new topic of noise pollution" fell to the Reagan administration's funding cuts for watchdog programs deemed "over-regulatory and anti-business." Citing statistics about the large group of Americans bombarded by dangerous noise levels at work and at home, this article promotes self-protection and makes a call for the resurrection of funding for watchdog agencies to regulate safe noise levels.

Other Indexes

Aircraft Noise
Amplified Noise
Effects on Wildlife/Animals
Construction Noise
Firing Ranges
Health Effects
Home Equipment and Appliances
International News
Environmental Justice
Land Use and Noise
Civil Liberty Issues
Miscellaneous Noise Stories
Noise Ordinances
Noise Organizations Mentioned
Outdoor Events
Noise in Our National Parks/Natural Areas
Residential and Community Noise
Snowmobile and ATV Noise
Research and Studies
Technological Solutions to Noise
Transportation Related Noise
Violence and Noise
Watercraft Noise

Chronological Index
Geographical Index

NPC Menu Bar NPC Home Page Ask NPC Support NPC Search the NPC Home Page NPC QuietNet NPC Resources NPC Hearing Loss and Occupational Noise Library NPC Noise News NPC Law Library NPC Library