Noise is undesired sound that can cause impairments or damage to health. Even at relatively low acoustic pressures, noise can be perceived as annoying and disturbing. It can give rise to stress reactions that have a detrimental effect on the ability to concentrate and on employee performance. The result is often faulty reactions which, like the reduced ability to perceive signals at higher levels, can increase the accident risk. In the event of many years of noise exposure at work, health impairment – and particularly damage to hearing – is possible.
In Germany, some four to five million employees are exposed to health-endangering noise at their workplaces. Despite considerable advances in prevention, noise-induced partial deafness is still the most frequently recognised industrial disease. For noise-induced partial deafness alone, the social accident insurance institutions pay pensions worth over €170 million per year.
The IFA supports the social accident insurance institutions with workplace measurements that are complicated or require elaborate equipment set-ups, e.g. measurements of extremely high sound pressure peaks or under helmets or with artificial heads. On the initiative of the social accident insurance institutions, firms are given noise reduction advice in order, for instance, to improve the acoustics in workrooms. Such advice makes particular sense during the design of new workplaces so that noise problems can be identified in good time and noise reduction measures can be planned. The institute is a notified European test body for hearing protectors (type tests), a test body for noise emissions from machines (part test under the EG Machinery Directive) and a calibration body for sound level meters. A complete list of the work focuses of Unit 4.1 "Noise" can be found in About us. In all the work fields mentioned, research and study projects are carried out at the prompting of the social accident insurance institutions.
IFA Manual on safety and health protection at the workplace
Information on noise is also contained in section 2 (Physical effects at the workplace: Noise, vibration and radiation) and in section 4 (Personal Protective equipment) in the IFA Manual (in German). The articles can be downloaded individually (with costs).
Division 4: Ergonomics, Physical environmental factorsTel: +49 30 13001-3410