Noise as a Hazard Agent in the Work Place
A hazard is defined as anything that has the potential of endangering one’s life. In the work place context, noise is considered to be one such hazard due to various reasons and particularly since prolonged exposure to noise can result in adverse health impacts. In Hong Kong, work place noise takes various forms. First, there is construction noise which is generally noise made by the movement and/ or operation of various machineries used in construction. For people using these machineries and those who work with them,, exposure to this type of noise for close to 8 hours a day can be detrimental to the hearing (Environmental Protection Agency). Another form of noise that is also common in the work place is traffic noise which relates to noise produced by vehicles moving and hooting as well as the noise produced by air traffic.
Noise of advanced levels impacts various aspects of human health negatively. Apart from hearing loss, continued exposure to noise can also result in the increase of heart rate, blood pressure, reduced functioning of the endocrine glands through increase in adrenaline production, reduced concentration levels, lack of motivation and general emotional disequilibrium (Matheson & Stansfeld, 2003). In association with the outlined effects, emotional imbalance is also one of the results of persistent exposure to noise, characterized by the increase in stress levels among the noise recipients. Also, thinning of blood vessels increases the risk of hypertension among those who are frequently exposed to noise. As such, addressing the issue of noise in the work place focuses not only on the impacts on hearing systems but on human life in general.
Occupational health and safety standards provide guidelines concerning the level of noise to which one can be exposed. The principles of occupational health which are to be followed include: protection and prevention which involves identification of potential hazards, risks and assessing how the risks can be mitigated; adaptation which recognizes the difference in needs between various classes of people and advocates for training individuals on how to protect themselves based on their needs; promotion and development of a safe working environment for enhanced productivity; cure and rehabilitation which involves the provision of a safe environment for recuperation of those who have already suffered as a result of a particular hazard; and primary healthcare which is essentially the inclusion of healthcare personnel in the work environment (Guidotti, 2011).
In order to effectively manage work place safety, it is critical to control hazards in the work place. Various measures are in existence. For instance, The Hong Kong department of Environmental Protection has put in place measures such as CCTV surveillance to help confirm adherence to industrial safety standards. In addition to this, the Environmental protection Agency has also set up standards for traffic and construction noise levels in the environment.
Although the amount of noise produced cannot be regulated, the agency has set stipulations that no construction noises should be heard from 7p.m to 7 a.m. Using persuasion, the department plans to achieve an overall reduction in the noise levels in the entire Hong Kong city. Factors such as construction technologies using noise abatement procedures and provision of incentives to companies have been planned to be used in Hong Kong for noise abatement. Various technical characteristics of noise such as pressure, power and frequency all impact the level associated with noise to different extents.
Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/environmentnhk/noise/noise_maincontent.html
Guidotti, T.L. (2011). Global Occupational Health. New York, Oxford University Press.
Matheson, M.P. and Stansfeld, S.A. (2003). Noise Pollution: Non-auditory Effects on Health. Oxford Journals, 243 -257.
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