Noise Levels in the New Zealand Health Industry
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
The aim of this study was to investigate noise levels in the New Zealand health industry. The goal was to investigate the room acoustics and the characteristics of the noise sources along with noise exposure of health care workers, in New Zealand, in dental clinics and orthopaedic cast clinics and assess whether they are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). A literature review was conducted to determine the definition, cause, and ways to prevent NIHL in relation to the dental clinics and orthopaedic cast clinics. Also determined from a review of the literature were ways to assess and monitor the acoustics of these spaces. Initially room acoustic measurements of background noise levels as well as reverberation times were made and frequency information on the major noise sources was obtained. This was followed by measurement of the daily noise dose exposure of staff working in the participating dental clinics and orthopaedic cast clinics. It was found that noise dose levels did not exceed the damage risk criterion set by The New Zealand Occupational Safety and Health Service of Leq8h of 85 dBA and therefore staff were considered to not be at risk of NIHL. However, the background noise levels measured may be putting healthcare workers at risk of non-auditory related effects of noise exposure, affecting work performance, cognitive abilities and vital communication between staff and patients. Healthcare workers may also be at risk of non-auditory health effects due to increased noise annoyance leading to raised stress levels, which may ultimately lead to pathophysiological changes in the myocardium. Future research in the area of noise levels in the New Zealand health industry should be performed to obtain noise data on a larger sample and look further at the non-auditory health effects of exposure to noise in the health industry.