12 Jul 2024

Decibels are causing a decline

Two in three industrial workers say productivity is plummeting due to ‘unbearable’ noise

Oscar Acoustics, says it has found that unbearable levels of noise are crippling productivity in the industrial sector, with two in three workers (66%) saying so, suggesting that ‘decibels are causing a decline’.

The findings were presented during Oscar Acoustics’ latest research study, ‘Silence the Noise’, which focuses on the concerns of employees – particularly those working in loud environments. 750 employers and employees took part in the study, which revealed that in fact, the majority of workplace settings simply aren’t cut out for dealing with noise.

Over half of those surveyed (52%) said that their working environment is either not well (23%) or not very well designed (29%), to do their jobs safely.

One in five workers (20%) found noise conditions so bad, that they felt compelled to quit their job, or else continue making their lives miserable. This comes alongside data from the Career Happiness Index, curated by The Futures Group, which found that staff from the manufacturing and transport and logistics industry are the least happy workers, out of ten main sectors in the UK.

The Oscar Acoustics’ report also flagged that a significant portion of people felt that a complaint would have no influence on management to address the matter – more than a third (35%) felt this to be true.

The biggest noise bug-bear came from both heavy machinery and a lack of noise control – where a combined two in five workers (40%) placed this as one of the most frustrating aspects of the workplace. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of staff (25%) were delivering poor quality work as a result of high noise levels at work, stats that are ill-timed given reports that UK manufacturing is in a resurgence and is responsible for a quarter of the UK’s GDP[1].

When asked if employers recognised how noise in their work environment can lead to a variety of health issues, the percentage that understood potential health implications never rose above a third. This is despite half of employers (49%) believing that acoustic design is important in the workplace. However, less than three in ten (28%) had introduced protective equipment such as earplugs and ear defenders.

This lack of attention has also led to serious health implications, with a quarter (25%) suffering from tinnitus and a combined four in ten (40%) of workers admitting that the unbearable noise levels have led to either diabetes (20%) or a stroke (20%).

Yet, part of the problem may lie in the age of developed structures, which may not have had sound measures appropriately considered during the build. Four in five employees (83%), say the industrial building where they work, was constructed or significantly refurbished in the last 10 years. However, one in six (16%) admitted that their building has neither been constructed nor significantly refurbished in the last 10 years, which means they’re outdated.

Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics, said: “UK manufacturing and industry is currently a driving force and represents the backbone of this country’s economy. Prioritising noise protection isn’t just about compliance; it’s about protecting our key workers. This starts by listening to their concerns about noise and the impact it’s having on their overall performance.

“Ignoring this issue also fails to safeguard our productivity, jeopardising our ability to thrive in a competitive market. It’s time for us to listen, act, and invest in a quieter, more supportive workplace environment.”

[1] Manufacturing responsible for a quarter of UK’s GDP | Express & Star (expressandstar.com)

Company info: Oscar Acoustics