What is Noise Pollution in Construction?
Construction is a noisy business; there’s no denying that. However, are you aware of the importance of controlling vibrations in construction, what the different levels of noise classifications are on construction sites and how damaging excessive construction site noise levels can be? Eliminating the source of the noise is the most effective way to prevent risks to workers. Still, it is not always feasible, so in this blog, we will discuss the industrial noise control regulations to guide your company on the best ways to reduce noise pollution in construction.
What is Noise Pollution in Construction?
Noise pollution in construction can be defined as “excessive noise or disturbance that may have a negative effect on health or the quality of life”. The Noise Policy Statement for England (NPSE) defines noise pollution as environmental noise, neighbour noise and neighbourhood noise. Construction site noise levels are classed as neighbourhood noise, which includes noise arising from industrial premises, construction sites and noise in the street.
The government defines three levels of noise:
- No observed effect level
This lowest level of noise suggests there is no effect on the health or quality of life.
- Lowest observed effect level
This mid-level of noise suggests evidence of adverse effects on health and the quality of life.
- Significant observed adverse effect level
This is the highest level of industrial noise control, where evidence suggests there might be significant effects of health and quality of life.
The Health and Safety Executive Standards for Industrial Noise Control
UK Noise Regulations came into force in Great Britain in April 2006, under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations. These regulations aim to make sure workers’ hearing is protected from excessive noise at their workplace. Now, employers must provide hearing protection at a noise level of 85 decibels and above, for daily or weekly average exposure. Additionally, employers must perform health and safety risk assessments and provide information and training at a minimum noise level 80 decibels.
Find out how to meet industry standard isolation levels by choosing the correct vibration control products.
What is the Effect of Noise Pollution in Construction?
These standards are in place because noise pollution in construction can potentially contribute to poor quality of life, causing one or more of the issues listed below:
- Partial or total loss of hearing
- Startle and defence reactions and increased anxiety
- Ear pain or discomfort
- Speech interference
- Poor sleep quality
- Changes in behaviour, such as irritability, anger and frustration
- Cardiovascular effects
The wider effects of noise pollution in construction includes structural damage to buildings, decreased property value, loss of productivity and social impacts such as sickness.
Ways to Reduce Construction Site Noise Levels
- Provide workers with hearing protection devices (HPDs)
Ensure that your construction workers are protected at work with hearing protection. It is important to find a solution that is comfortable, safe, and that employees have adequate training on the need for hearing protection.
- Use a quieter process or equipment
If possible, you must take care to use a quieter process or equipment in construction. While new, quieter equipment could cost more due to quieter cooling fans or better gear meshing, it may be cheaper than the medical costs associated with the hearing loss of your construction workers.
- Use newer equipment
Newer equipment is less worn and therefore should generate less noise. Worn bearings create vibration and noise, so you might think about replacing these, for example.
- Modify older equipment
Your machinery is your investment and your capital. Maintaining and modifying your existing equipment increases its life and can make it quieter to use. For example, you could retrofit your machinery with dampers, mufflers or fans, and keep parts lubricated. Most importantly, do not remove your noise or vibration reduction attachments, such as mufflers, covers, anti-vibration mounts and vibration isolators except during maintenance or replacement.
- Place noisy equipment away from workers and residents
Carefully plan shifts and construction work. For example, you could rotate workers and jobs to reduce exposure time to high construction site noise levels.
- Use temporary barriers
You may shelter your noisy machinery or equipment using temporary barriers, to shield workers or bystanders from the noise pollution in construction.
So, while noise pollution in the construction industry is a high risk for noise-related ill health, there are many ways to prevent the full impact of construction site noise levels to workers and bystanders, particularly if you stick with industrial noise control regulations.
GMT Rubber offers many solutions for anti-vibration that can be used to help reduce noise pollution, including anti-vibration mounts, to improve the life of your machinery. Read our step-by-step guide to choosing anti-vibration mounts or contact one of our experienced engineers to discuss an anti-vibration solution to help meet the requirements of your machinery today.