Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Noise, performance efficiency and safety


This paper summarises our current knowledge of the non-auditory effects of noise on performance efficiency and safety. This topic has been studied both in the laboratory and in the field, and detailed accounts of the results for laboratory studies have been presented elsewhere, so only the main conclusions are given here. There have been few field studies of the effects of noise on accidents and productivity and these are discussed in detail here. Overall, the results from the laboratory and field both suggest that noise may influence efficiency and safety, although further prospective studies with appropriate interventions are required to give us more precise information about these effects.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Atherley GRC, Purnell GV (1969) Noise control. In: Handley W (ed) Industrial safety handbook. McGraw Hill, New York

  2. Broadbent DE (1979) Human performance and noise. In: Harris C (ed) Handbook of noise control (2nd ed). McGraw Hill, New York

  3. Broadbent DE (1983) Recent advances in understanding performance in noise. In: Rossi G (ed) Proc Fourth Int Congr on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Centro ricerche e studi Amplifon, Milan

  4. Broadbent DE, Little EAJ (1960) Effects of noise reduction in a work situation. Occup Psychol 34:133–140

  5. Cohen A (1973) Industrial noise and medical, absence, and accident record data on exposed workers. In: Ward DM (ed) Proc Int Congr on Noise as a Public Health Problem. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, pp 441–453

  6. Cohen A (1976) The influence of a company hearing conservation program on extra-auditory problems in workers. J Safety Res 8:146–162

  7. Committee on the Problem of Noise (1963) Noise — final report

  8. Heald L (1955) Parliamentary debates 546:2676

  9. Jessel M (1977) Inventing the future of noise control: acoustic comfort at workshop as well as at home. 9th Int Congr on Acoustics, Satellite Symposium Hearing and Industrial Noise Environments, Seville

  10. Jones D (1989) Progress and prospects in the study of performance in noise. In: Berglund B, Berglund U, Karlsson J, Lindvall T (eds) Proc Fifth Int Congr on Noise as a Public Health Problem, Swedish Council for Building Research, Stockholm

  11. Kerr WA (1950) Accident proneness of factory departments. J Appl Psychol 34:167–170

  12. King AJ (1947) Noise abatement in industry. J Ind Safety 1:59–62

  13. Lees REM, Romeril CS, Wethcrall LD (1980) A study of stress indicators in workers exposed to industrial noise. Can J Publ Health 71:261–265

  14. Levy-Leboyer A, Moser G (1988) Noise effects on two industrial tasks. In: Berglund B, Berglund U, Karlsson J, Lindvall T (eds) Proc Fifth Int Congr on Noise as a Public Health Problem, Swedish Council for Building Research, Stockholm, pp 43–48

  15. Noweir MH (1984) Noise exposure as related to productivity, disciplinary actions, absenteeism, and accidents among textile workers. J Safety Res 15:163–174

  16. Schmidt JAW, Royster LH, Pearson RG (1980) Impact of an industrial hearing conservation program on occupational injuries for males and females. J Acoust Soc Am 67:559

  17. Smith AP (1985) Noise, biased probability and serial reaction. Br J Psychol 76:89–95

  18. Smith AP (1989) A review of the effects of noise on human performance. Scand J Psychol (in press)

  19. Smith AP, Ottmann W (1987) Einfluß von Umgebungsfaktoren auf die psychische Leistung. In: Kleinbeck U, Rutenfranz J (eds) Arbeitspsychologie (Band 1 der Serie Wirtschafts-, Organisations- und Arbeitspsychologie der Enzyclopadie der Psychologie). Hogrefe, Göttingen, pp 304–359

  20. Smith AP, Stansfeld S (1986) Aircraft noise exposure, noise sensitivity and everyday errors. Environ Behav 18:214–226

  21. Weston HC, Adams S (1932) The effects of noise on the performance of weavers. Med Res Counc Ind Health Res Board Rep No 65:38–62

  22. Wilkins PA, Acton WI (1982) Noise and accidents — a review. Ann Occup Hyg 25:249–260

  23. Wojtczak-Jaroszowa J, Jarosz D (1987) Chronohygienic and chronosocial aspects of industrial accidents. Adv Chronobiol [Part B] 415–426

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Smith, A. Noise, performance efficiency and safety. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 62, 1–5 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00397841

Download citation

Key words

  • Noise
  • Performance efficiency
  • Safety
  • Accidents