It is well known that noise can cause a range of health injuries, the most serious, known and studied of which is hypoacusis, i.e. hearing loss of various degrees. Furthermore, noise can act through a complex mechanism also on other organs and systems (cardiovascular system, endocrine system, central nervous system and others), with many consequences, including the onset of mental fatigue, the reduction of efficiency and of performance at work, interference with sleep and rest and many others.
Also not to be neglected are the possible effects on safety: indeed, noise can lead to a masking effect that disturbs verbal communication and the perception of warning signals, thus increasing the risk of accidents at work.
In the EU 28% of workers (more than 60 million people) state that they are exposed to levels of noise that are so high as to make conversation difficult. Nearly 40 million workers have to raise their voices to be heard for at least half of the time that they are at work.
The Directive 2003/10/EC establishes the measures for prevention and protection against occupational noise exposure, in particular for preventing hearing damage.