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Noise Health & Safety Ahlsell


High noise levels occur in most workplaces – but it can also be difficult to pinpoint where the boundary between sound and noise is. Noise damage is stealthy, causes no pain and starts as a temporary condition, before turning into permanent hearing loss. Unfortunately, this means that early signs are often ignored.

Permanent hearing damage leads to lifelong disability and affects work capacity, the ability to communication and quality of life. However, with the right protective equipment, damage can be prevented completely.

Active protection against noise damage

Protection against noise is based on factors such as:

Eliminate and prevent
Establish clear processes; investigate whether it is possible to build in and dampen the sound source, or perform the work further away from the sound source.

Measure the noise level
The guideline value for starting to use hearing protection is 80 dB – it is a good idea to conduct a professional measurement to get a better idea of the noise level in the workplace.

Hearing protection
Choose the correct hearing protection – and make sure that it is used.

What is noise?

Noise is one of the biggest problems in the workplace. It not only occurs everywhere, it is also difficult to pinpoint the source. What is sound and what is noise?


Sounds are moving pressure waves and the loudness is measured in decibels (dB). How the pressure waves fluctuate is called frequency and is measured in Hertz (Hz). Noise is an undesirable sound that you perceive as disturbing, which can be stressful. Noise at higher volumes can also be harmful to the ear and hearing. A guide value for when sound crosses the boundary and becomes noise is 80 dB.

What are the risks of noise?

Noise damage can lead to permanent hearing loss, and without hearing it is extremely difficult to perform most tasks in everyday life.


If the sound is too loud, the noise-sensitive hair cells in the inner ear and nerve cells in the auditory nerve can be damaged. How harmful noise is depends on how intense the sound is, how long it lasts and how sensitive the hearing cells are.


Noise damage is a gradual injury. It causes no pain, does not cause any visible physical damage and starts as a temporary condition and then becomes permanent. Unfortunately, this often leads to early signs being ignored. Help is usually first sought after 40% hearing loss.


Noise damage leads to serious lifelong disability and affects the ability to work, the ability to communicate and quality of life. This leads to a significant increase in the risk of accidents at the workplace, e.g. because warning signals are not heard.


Common symptoms include isolation, communication difficulties, difficulty in being in environments where many people are talking (restaurant visits), being unable to hear birds and crickets chirping, tinnitus, health problems such as high blood pressure, irritation, stress and disrupted sleep.


Noise damage is permanent but can be 100% prevented.

Which industries are commonly exposed to noise?

Construction and heavy industry are the first industries that are often exposed to high noise levels. Airports, workshops, sawmills, mines, transport, shipping and agriculture are some examples.


There are many industries that are less obvious, but where it often manifests itself in hearing loss in upper middle age. Examples include kitchens, restaurants, childcare and elderly care.

What does the law say?

  • Work must be planned, conducted and followed up so that noise exposure is reduced by eliminating the noise at the source or reducing it to the lowest possible level. Consideration must then be given to technical developments and opportunities to limit noise. Link to the Swedish Work Environment Authority’s “Bort med bullret-en bra ljudmiljö lönar sig alltid” [Get rid of the noise – a good sound environment always pays off].
  • The employer must investigate the working conditions and assess the risks resulting from exposure to noise at work. Noise exposure must be determined and measurements performed to the extent necessary to determine whether the action and limit values are reached or exceeded. This should be planned and performed at appropriate intervals by a qualified person.
  • Workers must be given the opportunity to participate in the issues covered by the regulations and in particular in risk assessment, measures and choice of hearing protection.
  • Measures must be adapted to employees who may be particularly sensitive to noise.
  • At more than 80 db, the employer must offer hearing protection.
  • At more than 85 db, the employee must wear ear protection.

How to protect yourself against noise!

  • Eliminate and prevent. Establish clear and simple processes. Take control of the prevailing attitude and safety culture and create order and clarity. Consider whether it is possible to eliminate the risks from the start by e.g. building in and dampening the sound source, or whether it is possible to perform the work further from the sound source.
  • If you cannot eliminate or limit the noise sufficiently, use and choose the right hearing protection. A simple and inexpensive insurance against noise damage.
  • Make sure that users have access to equipment. The person performing the job must also be aware of the risks.
  • Conduct ongoing risk assessments and systematic work environment management. Focus on safe behavior; create good routines and attitudes. This contributes to insights into the risks that exist. (The risk assessment must be documented in writing.) (Swedish Work Environment Authority / AFS statutes)
  • In these regulations, systematic work environment management refers to the employer's efforts to investigate, implement and follow up activities in such a way that work-related illness and accidents are prevented and a satisfactory work environment is achieved.
  • Use the correct PPE and tools. Today, there are many high-quality hearing protection products that make your everyday life safe. Fit and comfort are an important part of this, which contributes to increased use of personal protection.
  • You can find Ahlsell’s range of hearing protection here.


  • Measure the noise level at your workplace. The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s “Buller” app can give you a small indication. But get a professional measurement so you know more precisely.
  • Incorrectly inserted plugs, poor hygiene kits or thick eyeglass frames inside the ear muffs can reduce the damping value by up to 50%.
  • Think ahead and conduct a risk analysis
  • Make health and safety a natural part of your everyday life with a focus on health and safety work.

Other risk areas

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