Noise at the workplace is a major cause of deafness.

Not only does workplace noise cause deafness, it can lead to increased absenteeism and employee turnover, as well as lowered work performance. It can also contribute to workplace injuries and accidents.

Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a major compensable industrial disease that entails substantial economic costs.

Noise-induced hearing loss cannot be reversed or cured. People suffering from NIHL often have communication and personal relationship difficulties. They may face social isolation and reduced quality of life. Family and friends are often affected.

Hearing aids are of limited benefit. Twenty per cent of people affected by NIHL also suffer from tinnitus or ringing in the ears, some severely.

Noise also has a serious impact on the surrounding environment.

Excessive noise

Long periods of repeated exposure to workplace noise between 75 and 85 dB(A) (decibels) present a small risk of hearing disability to some people. As noise levels increase, so does the risk. Above 85 dB(A) the risk increases substantially.

Excessive noise means noise that exceeds the exposure standard for noise set in the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations or by the workplace’s noise control policy, whichever is the lower.

Noise Level dB(A) Exposure time limits
85 8 hours
88 4 hours
91 2 hours
94 1 hour
97 30 mins
100 15 mins
103 7.5 mins

Click here to view the Managing noise at workplaces code of practice.