WHISPER IT LOUDLY - EVEN QUIET NOISE CAN BE HARMFUL!
 
Leather, P. and Beale, D., University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
 
This paper explores the direct and indirect effects of occupational noise exposure upon three indicators of employee well-being: job satisfaction, self-reported symptoms of ill-health, and organisational commitment. Based upon a sample of UK office workers, two-way between subjects analyses of variance are used to show that even relatively low levels of objective noise can have a detrimental impact upon employee well-being when those exposed to this noise are also experiencing relatively higher levels of psychosocial stress. Specifically, the results to be presented show that while objective noise levels in the region of 45dB to 65 dB have no main effect upon job satisfaction, self-reported symptoms of ill-health or organizational commitment, quieter work settings within this range can act to buffer the negative impact of psychosocial job stress (measured using Karasek's job demand and job decision latitude scales) upon these same outcomes. Three conclusions are drawn. First, that the full context of the 'sound event' must be taken into account when investigating the impact of noise upon human behaviour and well-being. Second, that the concept of psychosocial stress, or job strain, represents a valuable way of operationalizing this context in the work setting. Third, that - indirectly at least - even relatively low levels of noise can prove deleterious to human well-being.