Noise that is too loud can lead to permanent hearing damage. Learn which noises to be aware of, and how to protect yourself and your whānau.

Hearing damage

Being exposed to loud noise for a short time can lead to temporary effects to your hearing. If you keep being exposed to loud noise, this can lead to permanent damage.

If you have to shout to be heard by someone 1 metre away, the noise is too loud. This means your hearing may be at risk.

Self care for noise

Whether you are at home, or out and about, it is important to protect your hearing. There are a few steps you can take.

  • Keep the volume down. Devices like phones, speakers and car stereos can damage your hearing if it is turned up too loud. Loud music while wearing headphones can also lead to permanent hearing damage.
  • Avoid using noisy equipment and spending time in noisy environments where practical.
  • Wear protective equipment such as earmuffs or earplugs if you are using noisy equipment or in noisy environments.
  • Limit exposure to excessively loud noises.

Noise in a workplace is controlled under health and safety legislation. WorkSafe is the primary regulator.

Noise — WorkSafe (external link)

Environmental noise

General noise from the environment does not usually cause hearing damage. These noises can disrupt sleep and increase the risk of various health effects, such as cardiovascular disease.

Environmental noise is controlled under the Resource Management Act and local councils are the primary regulator.

If you are worried about environmental noise, including issues like noisy parties or other neighbourhood noise, contact your local council.

Councils in Aotearoa — Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) (external link)

Reducing environmental noise inside the home

Environmental noise can not be avoided, but there are some steps you can take to minimise disruption in your home.

  • Use sleeping spaces on a quiet side of the building if possible.
  • Keep windows closed to minimise the noise.
  • Upgrade the window glazing to reduce noise passing through the glass.

See the Waka Kotahi guide for more information about acoustic treatment of buildings.

State highway guide to acoustic treatment of buildings — Waka Kotahi (external link)

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