Today is International Noise Awareness Day and the event is being marked by the launch of a campaign to spread peace and quiet in offices across Europe.
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has launched the ‘Stop that Noise’ campaign with the backing of the European Parliament and the Commission.
A European Directive on occupational noise will come into force on 15 February 2006. This will set a limit of 87 decibels for workers’ daily exposure to noise.
The agency estimates that one-third of Europe’s workers are exposed to high levels of noise for more than a quarter of their working time.
Almost 40 million workers (equivalent to the population of Spain) have to raise their voices above normal conversational levels in order to be heard for at least half of their working hours, the agency claims.
“What we hope to achieve is a clear understanding that the threat of noise goes far beyond traditionally ‘loud’ industries. It can cost you more than your hearing, but it can be effectively controlled and its risks prevented or considerably reduced,” said Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, the agency’s director.