Quiet-List 1997

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RE: Radio in the workplace

On Fri, 4 Jul 1997 12:22:58 -0700, 
Peter Donnelly   <skookum@islandnet.com> wrote:

>>There have been some good arguments put forth lately about the
>>adverse effects of such low level noise in the workplace. 
>>Reprints of these articles could be included with the petition.
>Can you tell us more?

   Here is one of the articles I had in mind.  It's from PC Week, 
4-28-97, page 55.  I see that the original source materials came from 
the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse (NPC), but I couldn't find anything 
on their web site about low-level noise in the workplace. 

   I know from personal experience that being forced to listen to 
low-level annoying noise in the workplace (such as from radios and 
speaker-phones) can be frustrating and distracting.  It can be a major 
source of stress.  Worldwide, the number of mistakes made by workers 
(in the form of number transpositions, programming errors, or worse) 
directly resulting from such noise, must be enormous.  The cost of 
*fixing* those errors must be enormous too.  Such noise is often 
completely unnecessary, and easily avoidable.      

   Even those who *like* listening to the radio at work can make 
serious mistakes because of the distraction.  An airport cargo worker 
grooving to the beat on his Walkman while loading oxygen canisters on 
a Value Jet in Florida can easily overlook the fact that some of them 
are not empty.  Meanwhile, back at the shipping desk, the foreman, 
listening to an all-sports AM station, absent-mindedly signs the 
shipping order and returns to the analysis of last night's games.   
An hour later over 100 people are dead.

- - - - - - - - - - (begin PC Week Article) - - - - - - - - - - - - 

   Materials released this month by the nonprofit Noise Pollution 
Clearinghouse (NPC) suggest that the computer-equipped office may be 
hazardous to the quality of work.

   Actual hearing loss is unlikely in office settings, where sound 
intensity doesn't reach the levels found on factory floors or 
construction sites.

   Even at office levels, however, PC Week Labs' review of the NPC 
documents found that persistent noise has other effects.  The constant 
whir of computer fans, hard disks and printers may reduce accuracy in 
tasks requiring concentration.  Long-term risks include elevated blood 
pressure, thought to be due to the body's response to a subconscious 
perception of danger.

   Unlike other pollutants, noise does not affect the simple organisms 
or lower animals used for most biological research.  Recent research 
at The Mirman School in Los Angeles, for example, confirmed that 
bacteria growth is not affected by even very high levels of amient 
white noise.  Regulations in this area are therefore difficult to 

   The NPC invites organizations to observe the second annual 
International Noise Awareness Day on April 30 to educate the public 
about the effects of noise on hearing and other aspects of health.  
Additional information and suggested ways to participate can be found 
on the NPC Web site at "www.nonoise.org".

                  - copyright 1997 by Ziff-Davis Publishing Company
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David Staudacher - quiet@igc.org 
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