There’s a wealth of research and awareness regarding occupational and environmental health risks to hearing. While, in general, lab noise isn’t likely to approach the dBA of a jackhammer or a power saw—levels that damage hearing—it can still be a compromising factor for health in other ways (and in turn, lab safety).
Substantial evidence shows that the effects of long-term exposure to noise, even low-level noise, can range far beyond its impact on hearing. Exposure to loud noise has been linked to an increase in annoyance, sleep disturbance, cardiovascular disease, and even cognitive impairment in children.
The Non-Auditory Effects of Lab Noise on Health
Now, we certainly hope that there are no children in your lab. And we hope that staff are not sleeping there either, on or off shift. The lab safety issue has more to do with the lasting effect noise has on our bodies throughout the day and night.
Annoyance: While annoyance in the workplace might be something we are inclined to roll our eyes at, the long-term effects of working in a setting that triggers annoyance can be real and lasting. Anger, displeasure, and exhaustion are all side-effects of sustained periods of annoyance. These can manifest in large and small ways, triggering lab safety issues when workplace conversations escalate into anger and displeasure. We’re all human, and it’s no secret that annoyed or angry people tend to display poor judgment or impaired function—the prime underlying causes of tragic lab accidents.
Stress: Stress can cause a dangerous lab safety downward spiral if it is not addressed. While sleep disturbance from noise is usually linked to environmental factors in the home rather than lab noise, lab noise can increase stress, which is linked to sleep loss. This means one of the effects of lab noise on health is lack of sleep. Let’s face it; sleepy lab techs are sloppy lab techs. They might mislabel solution or accidentally skip lab safety protocols, resulting in dangerous lab conditions.
Cardiovascular Disease: More hidden effects of lab noise on health come in the form of cardiovascular disease. Repeated noise exposure increases blood pressure and heart rate; and releases stress hormones, thereby increasing the stress response. These bodily changes have a direct impact on the heart, resulting, over time, in increased rates of hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Naturally, these diseases will have a direct impact, not just on lab safety, but on your staff’s productivity as well. We have listed some of the longer-term effects of lab noise on health and your lab’s productivity in a prior article.
Lab Noise Reduction Improves Lab Safety
There is hope though, and these nasty side-effects of lab noise on health can be controlled. One of the best ways, is to invest in quality dedicated lab furniture that will, among other things, help with lab noise reduction. Our IonBench MS can decrease noise and increase both lab safety and productivity, so contact us today to discuss customized solutions to battle the noise.