Hazards arising from physical agents

This refers to effects such as noise, vibrations, radiation (radioactive or optical), ultrasound, electromagnetic fields and over- or underpressure.

The pain threshold is reached...

[Translate to Englisch:] Live Konzert © CC0

Unless it's your favourite music, which you can listen to for hours at full volume. Only someone else's favourite music makes you sick in the long run!

All nonsense! You don't get sick from other people's tastes, but from constant sound over a volume of about 80 db(A). And these 80 db are not as loud as you think. Or are not perceived as very loud. Listening to music with headphones ("normal volume") is already above 95 db. Permanent damage to hearing cannot be ruled out from around 85 db continuous exposure.

To get a better impression of how loud what is here an overview:

Breathe, rustling leaf, snowfall 10 db
very quiet room, ticking of a wristwatch, light wind 30 db
Whispering, soft music, quiet residential street at night 40 db
rain, refrigerator, quiet conversation, noises in the apartment 55 db
normal conversation, sewing machine, television at room volume 65 db
Vacuum cleaner, kettle, running tap 70 db
Canteen noise, washing machine when spinning, open-plan office 75 db
loud speech, argument, piano playing 80 db
Saxophone playing, main road 85 db
Chamber concert, orchestra pit, door slams 90 db
music (headphones), wood milling machine 95 db
Drums/rock concert, chainsaw 110 Dezibel

The pain threshold, by the way, is about 120 db.

chainsaw, pneumatic hammer, thunderstorm, China firecracker, loud classical symphony concert, vuvuzela 120 Dezibel
Car race, fighter plane, gunshot. 140 Dezibel
Forge hammer, gun bang 150 Dezibel

It shakes a man's head.

Constant vibrations, either on the whole body or "only" on hands and arms, lead to joint damage or even neurological damage in the long run. Imagine your vehicle is hardly sprung and you are driving along a dirt road. Or you can mow the lawn for hours every day with one of these old petrol 2-stroke rattling mowers.

Neither the one nor the other occur particularly frequently in your work area at university. However, please be aware of whether such stress could play a role in your working environment.

Star Wars in the lab

Of course, we're not talking about laser guns, laser swords and tractor beams. But strong lasers and strong electromagnetic fields in physics. One inattention is enough and the eyesight is in danger. Or the pacemaker is going crazy.

Working under pressure

Here we don't mean the pressure that the boss is exerting because things are going too slowly again!

This refers to the physical overpressure (or negative pressure). Do you have to be under water occasionally in the context of your research? Not only divers, but also the house fire brigade works, so to speak, under overpressure when breathing apparatus with compressed air cylinders are used.

In biology, entire laboratories are sometimes under a slight negative pressure so that no bio-materials can escape. Find out about the conditions and limits.

Do you have to travel a lot, by plane? There is negative pressure in the cabin as in about 2000 metres above sea level. That's not much, but if you have problems with the natural pressure balance in the inneo ear, it can be very painful.


The following links lead you to the pages of the BAuA, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. You will find very detailed information on the various hazard factors, legal regulations and rules as well as important occupational health and safety measures.