Report: Jobsite Noise Could Put Workers Hearts at Risk

Noise reduction measures and health screenings are key.

Construction employers, hear this: Noise on the jobsite isn’t just a nuisance. And as far as health effects go, it’s not just bad for the ears. It’s also bad for the heart.

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A recent study from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)looked at the association between workplace noise exposure and heart disease. It found further evidence of a link between frequent exposure to loud noise and an increased risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which raise the risk for heart attack and stroke.

The data came from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey, which included workers from across multiple industries. The researchers concluded that among workers with high blood pressure, 14 percent of cases could be attributed to occupational noise exposure, as could 9 percent of high cholesterol cases.

Like loud noises and heart attacks, those numbers are hard to ignore.

Reducing workers’ exposure to noise could potentially help prevent high blood pressure and high cholesterol, noted NIOSH epidemiologist Elizabeth Masterson in a press release. She recommended that workers — especially noise-exposed workers — be screened regularly for these conditions, either at work or at their doctor’s office. “As these conditions are more common among noise-exposed workers, they could especially benefit from these screenings,” Masterson noted.

NIOSH director John Howard, M.D., noted, “Worksite health and wellness programs that include screenings for high blood pressure and cholesterol should also target noise-exposed workers.”

Of course, preventing exposure to excessive noise is a critical proactive measure to protect both heart health and hearing. Employers should work toward eliminating unnecessary noise sources, substituting quieter equipment and using engineering controls to reduce noise levels.

For their part, workers should wear the proper hearing protection. They can also wear a noise dosimeter to help ensure they’re not exposed to damaging levels of noise over the course of a shift.

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Marianne Wait is an editor and writer who creates content for Fortune 500 brands. 


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