Yes, permanently. Dr. Sharon Sandridge of the Cleveland Clinic notes that one exposure is all it takes to permanently damage your hearing. She states that, “if you go to a concert, and you say, ‘I’m going to just tough it out,’ and you walk out and your ears are ringing and everything is dull, you’ve done permanent damage at that point.” Permanent damage for which there is no cure and for which the only treatment is a hearing aid. Do yourself a favor and use ear plugs whenever and wherever you are around loud noise.
Yes, as upper management tries to squeeze more and more of the worker bees into the tiniest footprint they can, it turns out that savings in the account ledger comes at a price:
Oxford Economics, an analysis firm spun out of Oxford University’s business college, reached out to more than 1,200 executives and non-senior employees across industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and the government sector. The majority of the respondents (74 percent) reported that they worked in open-plan offices. A handful had private offices, and the rest split their days between home offices, travel, co-working spaces, or a combination of the three. About half of the respondents were Millennials.
* * *
More than half of the employees complained about noise. The researchers found that Millennials were especially likely to voice concern about rising decibels, and to wear headphones to drown out the sound or leave their desks in search of quieter corners.
So what was the most important “perk” for millennials?
Across the board, uninterrupted work time trumped employees’ wish lists. [Ed: emphasis added.] None of the respondents indicated that amenities like free food were most important to them in a work environment.
Essentially, providing an environment that allows your employees to do their work is a perk. How telling is that?
One of the fair’s jurors noted that “designers have neglected noise in interiors for too long,” adding that they fail to consider sound because they focus solely on whether a design looks nice. Most of the designs were in response to the open floor plans corporations have adopted as a way to squeeze as many employees into as little a footprint as possible, as a “side effect of this is that workers’ productivity is increasingly affected by noise distractions.” No doubt the cost of distraction hits the bottom line in one way or another, as the article states that there is a great deal of demand for these products in Scandinavia. One hopes American designers embrace the noise reduction trend sooner rather than later.
Rooftop Films is presenting “In Pursuit of Silence” for free on July 30th. “in Pursuit of Silence” examines silence as a “resource for respite and renewal from the sensory onslaught of our modern lives.” In keeping with the theme, “[t]he film will be presented as a special silent screening, with the audience listening to the film on headphones.” Click the link above for more information.
As this article on a study by staff in a Belgian intensive care unit (ICU) highlights, the noise levels in ICUs far exceeds World Health Organization guidelines for hospitals. While the article mentions “subjective feeling of noise pollution experienced by patients, nurses and doctors,” it fails to address more immediate problem with noisy ICUs, namely the interference with sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation on patients–patients who are in an ICU and clearly need rest to recover from a significant health event. One hopes that recognition of the problem will result in better study and more remedies for this problem than the “practical solution” offered by an ICU doctor, i.e., providing “earplugs or other ear defender devices” to patients.
The Tyranny of Noise. Do click the link as this is a worthwhile read. In this brief post, the author talks about the daily aural intrusions into our personal space as we are forced to deal with what the author calls a “kind of social rudeness.” We would remove the words “kind of” from that phrase. In any event, the author lists three ways in which she attempts “to push back on the cacophony of sounds in [her] immediate environment”: using earphones, using earplugs, and meditation. We would add:
request that loud music be lowered in stores, restaurants, and coffee shops; if the request is denied, leave after telling management that you will not be returning.
ask people who are talking loudly in public spaces to lower their voices, particularly if they are in spaces that have been designated as quiet spots (like the quiet cars on Amtrak trains).
We understand that it is difficult for some to ask a waitress or store manager to lower the music volume or, especially, to approach someone and ask them to lower their voice, but until we all do this, unnecessary noise will continue to intrude into our lives.
Click the link to learn the 12 ways that workplace noise affects worker well-being and productivity. While the executive team, safely ensconced in their offices, may not care about worker well-being, productivity is another thing altogether.
The author of the linked piece was disturbed by a tweet from “a well known rock magazine, Kerrang,” and responded, as follows:
Kerrang! Magazine did not respond to Restored Hearing’s tweet, but people in the hearing community did, which led to an interesting and thoughtful discussion about why hearing injuries are treated so dismissively when no one (presumably) would be openly snarky about injuries to sight. After all, there is no effective cure or treatment for most hearing injuries, the consequences of which are more significant than having to ask someone to speak up. Rather, hearing injuries can dramatically affect one’s quality of life. As Bryan Pollard, president of Hyperacusis Research Limited, Inc., stated:
‘Hyperacusis,’ the evil spawn of tinnitus, is a word you do not want in your vocabulary or your medical history. It means that noise = pain. All it takes is one loud night out to spark a lifetime of regret.
In the end, the reason for the flippancy is a lack of education. How many people even heard of hyperacusis or tinnitus or know what they are until and unless they or someone they know is diagnosed? That most hyperacusis and tinnitus is noise induced, thus preventable, means we need to confront the Kerrangs of the world and explain to them that today’s snarky tweet may lead to tomorrow’s lingering regret.
Thanks to Bryan Pollard for the link. Bryan is the founder and president of Hyperacusis Research Limited, a non-profit charity dedicated to funding research on what causes hyperacusis with the goal of developing effective treatments.