Health and safety culture have the greatest influence in controlling noise risks: cultural changes could generate the most improvements!

What factors influence employers' decisions and practices? Three factors were found to influence noise management: (i) managers' own knowledge/awareness of noise risks and associated controls, (ii) the health and safety culture of the company and (iii) its size. Managers generally underestimated the significance of noise as an occupational health risk; a critical knowledge gap was understanding what controls exist and would work in practice. The size of the company influenced the approach taken with smaller companies showing increased likelihood of reduced quality in noise management (ie low performance). Small companies, or low performers, were more constrained by health and safety resources than their high performing (generally large) counterparts. A preoccupation with measuring noise rather than implementing the right solutions was apparent amongst low performers, creating a barrier to going beyond personal hearing protection. Future noise interventions should address these factors and not underestimate the potential influence of culture change.

Source: Nikki Bell and Jennifer Webster. Influencing dutyholders behaviour regarding the management of noise risks. Health and Safety Laboratory for the Health and Safety Executive, 2011.


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