What are the effects of loud noise at work?

Prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, and other long-term hearing problems.

  • You may suffer from temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place. Although your hearing may recover after a few hours, take this as a danger sign. Continued exposure could cause permanent damage.
  • Sudden, extremely loud noise can also cause permanent hearing damage, for example, from cartridge-operated machines or sudden noise bursts down the telephone, known as 'acoustic shocks'.
  • Hearing loss can be gradual, due to prolonged exposure to noise.

With incurable hearing loss, you may not be able to hear a television unless the sound level is high, you may not keep up with conversation in a group, or you may have trouble using the phone.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has both video and audio demonstrations of the effect of noise-induced hearing loss at different life stages. Take a look, as these web tools really bring home the seriousness of this condition.

Remember that as well as damage to hearing, loud noise at work can also cause damage to your voice. See workSMART's Voice section for more information about this risk.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.