To read this content please select one of the options below:

Comparing high and low performers for noise control

Nikki Bell (Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), Buxton, UK)
Jennifer Lunt (Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), Buxton, UK)
Jennifer Webster (Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), Buxton, UK)
Tim Ward (Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Bootle, UK)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the dimensions that distinguish high from low performing manufacturing companies in Great Britain with respect to controlling noise. The findings should assist regulators and industry to develop interventions that help organisations to effectively manage noise, particularly amongst the low performers.


The research uses quantitative and qualitative methods. Survey data was obtained from 215 manufacturers and supplemented with 15 qualitative interviews to assess performance and individual, social, environmental and organisational influences on duty holders' decision making for controlling noise.


Relative to low performers, decision makers from high performing companies had: greater in-depth knowledge of noise risks and controls; taken steps to promote positive health and safety attitudes and values; were large companies; and faced fewer resource barriers (time, costs, staffing). Managers in small, low performing companies sought simple interventions with a practical focus.

Research limitations/implications

The differences reported between high and low performing companies showed a small magnitude of effect but these are considered significant in a health and safety context.

Practical implications

Improvements in training and education, and addressing workplace health and safety culture, are recommended as offering most potential to raise the standard of noise control.


To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to systematically assess the specific knowledge, attitudes, values and beliefs that employers hold about noise and the influence of social, environmental and organisational factors on manager’s decisions about noise controls.



© Bell, Lunt, Webster & Ward. Published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 3.0) license. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commerical & non-commerical purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this license may be seen at

This research was funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Disclaimer: This publication and the work it describes were funded by the health and safety executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.


Bell, N., Lunt, J., Webster, J. and Ward, T. (2015), "Comparing high and low performers for noise control", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 46-60.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Authors

Related articles