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Mental Health in the Working World

Noise is unwanted audible sound that can lead to disturbances, nuisance, impairments or damage to (mental) health. As the scoping review from the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows, noise in the workplace is not a purely physical phenomenon.

Different people can experience the same sound as either desirable or undesirable. The perception of noise therefore includes a subjective evaluation that is dependent on the person and the relevant situation. In other words, noise can have different effects on different people. A difference is made between aural and extra-aural effects. The latter are effects that do not affect hearing.

Aural noise affects the human hearing, and is mainly to be found in workplaces with a high noise level, in areas such as metalworking and timber processing, for example.

Extra-aural noise effects do not cause damage to hearing. However, they can have psychological effects e.g., on well-being, motivation, performance or physiological effects e.g., on the cardiovascular system. Furthermore, extra-aural noise effects can be acute (immediate), cumulative (increasing in the noise curve) and chronic (permanent).

Current state of knowledge

A scoping review by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) summarises the state of the scientific knowledge concerning noise in the context of work. It focuses on noise level-oriented characteristics and the characteristic of speech intelligibility, and considers their correlations with (mental) health and well-being. It also describes their relations to motivation, job satisfaction and performance. The review also reveals research gaps and discusses the options for reducing noise and risks to employees.

The project "Mental Health in the Working World"

The scoping review on noise in the context of work is part of the project "Mental Health in the Working World - determining the current state of scientific evidence". The project assesses mental load factors by means of the state of scientific knowledge.

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