If your workplace exposes you to loud noises, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive workplace noise affects 22 million Americans every year.
One possible effect of exposure to workplace noise is hearing loss. However, research suggests that exposure to loud noises as part of your job may put you at risk for other health problems.
A study into the effects of noise exposure on workers found that, in 58% of cases of hearing difficulty, exposure to loud noises at work was a contributing factor. The louder the noise is, the more quickly it can damage your hearing.
For example, a noise level of 85 decibels is loud enough that you have to raise your voice for someone to hear you and can damage hearing after an exposure lasting at least eight hours. A noise level of 95 decibels is so loud that you have to shout for someone standing arm’s length away to be able to hear you. Consistent exposure to this volume level can start damaging your hearing after an exposure of less than one hour.
While hearing loss is a significant risk of noise exposure in the workplace, research suggests that it can affect you in other ways. Studies have linked noise exposure to a temporary increase in blood pressure, perhaps because of the stress it puts on your body. Research is ongoing into whether prolonged exposure could contribute to chronic cardiovascular disease.
Loud noise can cause you to experience stress physically and mentally. This can cause symptoms of irritability and fatigue.