When I started working in a factory I didn’t expect it to involve sitting in an oasis of placid joy every day but I didn’t expect my ears to be left with a constant ringing in them either.
My job was pretty easy and didn’t involve a lot of noise making but the problems came from the group of fellow workers who banged big bits of metal together at the other end of the building. I don’t even know what they really did but they made an awful racket about it every single minute of every single day.
The Neil Young Effect at Work
At first I clung to the hope that it was a temporary task they were doing but then a nearly deaf old guy next to me said that they had been banging bits of metal together noisily for about 3 years by that stage. After a couple of weeks my ears started ringing in a way they hadn’t done since the night I stood too close to the amps at a Neil Young concert. At least no one was sick on my shoes at work like they were that night but I still felt that I was veering uneasily close to tinnitus territory.
I was just kind of getting used to the ringing noise when something weird happened. I went into the building one Monday and it was strangely quiet. It took me a while to find my bearings as well if I am being honest, which I hadn’t been expecting. It seems that over the weekend they had brought in some industrial partitions and put the hyperactive metal bangers in a different part of the building, while some sort of sound proofing had been fitted between us it appeared.
Who Is Breathing Really Heavily?
At first this seemed too good to believe and we all soaked up every second of silence like people who had been subjected to noise related torture for the last months, which I guess is what we were. It felt like heaven to drum my fingers on my desk and actually hear the sound they made However, after a while we realised that working in complete silence is almost as bad as working with the pounding of sheets of metal all day. The small grating noises my workmates made with their tools started to annoy me and even the heavy breathing of someone who sat across from me began to look like it could be a problem after a while. He had one of those ragged, laboured ways of breathing which make you think immediately of an out of condition horse after a long race.
The solution came one sweet day when one of my colleagues decided to bring in a radio. I had never listened to music at work before and it was a liberating experience to get paid while tapping my feet and whistling out of tune. The only blot on my horizon was that a couple of the guys had seriously weird tastes in music. Still, even the stuff they listened to – which sounded like a hybrid between rap and folk to my untrained ears – was better than the sounds we had been used to.
After a while I had forgotten all about the pounding noises which had threatened to ruin my life for a while. Then I got told to go into the other part of the building to fetch some papers. As soon as I passed through the partition I heard that old familiar rhythm and was only too pleased to get back out of there again. I had grown accustomed to listening to music and going back to industrial banging noises again was just something my head just couldn’t handle.
If you want to let your workers enjoy a safe and suitable working environment then you should consider whether some industrial partitions could come in useful.