Listen Up!

Listen Up!

Last month we focused on how inferior hand wrap can hold operations back, with weight, product damage and health and safety issues all causing potential negative effects. Since then the matter of noise has come up again and again with customers.

We’ve spoken before about the differences between blown and cast film and how they stack up. Yes, there are many reasons why innovative new pallet film is best for preventing product damage and reducing cost. However, until now the H&S advantages have not been clearly looked into.

Many distribution centres are not especially noisy places and often team members will avoid ear protection in order to listen for other safety hazards (like reversing forklifts, for example).

Health and safety often focuses on the obvious issues – the blunt objects and toxic hazards. Yet all the safety barriers in the world won’t help later in life when someone says something to you for the third time and you’re still none the wiser, nodding and smiling and the answer’s sufficient.

Hearing loss can often be a stealthy, insidious condition. That’s why we’ve decided to look into the issue with greater detail in this article. 

Quite simply, hearing loss will often occur when the ears are exposed to hazardous noise over a long period of time. This repetitive strain affects the tiny hairs and nerve cells in the inner ear, with Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) often only presenting as a real issue after the damage has been done.

The volume of the noise may not at first be obvious to those at risk. However, it is the recurring nature of the noise that makes it such a health risk.

What do New Zealand businesses have to be aware of? The occupational exposure limits for noise are stated in Regulation 11 of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations. This regulation requires that employers “take all practicable steps to ensure that no employee is exposed to noise above” specific levels outlined within the standards. Ear protection is mandatory for many tasks.

For many companies however, particularly smaller organisations, it can be difficult to assess specific H&S standards for intermittent noise. That’s where the noise from poor quality pallet hand wrap can (metaphorically) slip through the cracks.

Yet, with some pallet wrap reaching up to ninety decibels in use, this sustained noise can be responsible for dramatically increasing the risk of hearing loss.

The noise comes from the tackifier in traditional blown film, which helps it stick so it can’t easily be removed. In cast pallet wrap the tack layers are within the film so the noise is not heard. 

It’s a problem that’s exacerbated by issues some may have wearing protective equipment in the first place. Many distribution centres are not especially noisy places and often team members will avoid ear protection in order to listen for other safety hazards (like reversing forklifts, for example).

Then, if the film is loud, there is the risk that pallets will not be wrapped sufficiently. Subconsciously or not, the operator may want the noise to stop. So they’ll halt the wrap before it’s done correctly.

Obviously, there is an easy answer: the investment in quality cast hand wrap makes a massive difference in decibel levels and prevents the risk of NIHL.


All of Universal Packaging films are manufactured using the cast method – which is why each is whisper-quiet during application. Our Smartwrap Ultra & Smartwrap XT film is supremely quiet and strong, with excellent clarity and elastic memory. Our customers know they can wrap pallets quickly, quietly and correctly.

If they’re not using quality wrap all team members regularly near pallet wrapping should be wearing ear protection and within a safe area where no moving equipment can potentially cause harm.

Before any potentially expensive safety barriers are introduced however, companies should try a sample roll of new cast pallet hand wrap. To get your hands on one, click here.


How loud is that pallet wrap?

150 decibels: Godzilla (probably)

140 decibels: Gun shot

130 decibels: Ambulance

110 decibels: Car horn

92 decibels: Traditional (blown) pallet hand wrap

90 decibels:  Lawnmower

80 decibels:  Alarm clock

60 decibels:  Dishwasher

40 decibels: New (cast) pallet hand wrap

20 decibels:  Leaves rustling

10 decibels:  World’s smallest violin (possibly)

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