Whether you live in a city, rural area or small town, you’ll have experienced that continuous and loud noise that takes place when construction is happening. While it can be incredibly frustrating and distracting, the noise and vibration caused by construction is unfortunately often unavoidable, or at least can be limited. With the rapid increase in population, services and businesses – both big and small – expansion and redesigns of buildings are necessary. Construction site noise monitoring is a necessary function to keep construction sites compliant with regulations and safe for workers and the public.
It’s no secret that construction sites produce lots of noise, mainly from the array of different vehicles, heavy equipment, and loud machinery. In addition, noise is generated from site workers shouting and even music being played loudly. In regard to those who live nearby, excessive noise is not only annoying and distracting, but it can also lead to hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disturbance and, in some cases, severe stress. Also, research shows that high noise levels disturb the natural cycles of animals and forces them out of their natural habitat.
Why Construction Site Noise Pollution Occurs
Noise pollution can be caused due to many reasons, some of these include but are not limited to:
- Construction – buildings or structures being built or erected
- Demolition – buildings or structures being taken down
- Restructuring – existing buildings being rebuilt, restructured or extended
Noise generated by construction activities can cause significant noise pollution and can even be heard up to three miles away. For particularly large building projects, the noise can last for lengthy periods of time and work can often take place at unsociable times. Therefore, this can lead to considerable impacts on nearby residential properties and other developments that are sensitive to noise – particularly parks, outdoor spaces and other exposed areas, as well as near schools, hospitals, places of worship and local businesses. The results may be even more significant if work is carried out during the evening or throughout the night. It’s at this time of day when people are generally most sensitive to noise, and it’s no surprise as to why.
What is Construction and Vibration Monitoring?
When construction or building is taking place, noise and vibration monitoring is something that is of the utmost importance. Construction site noise monitoring is a necessary function helps to protect buildings and infrastructure surrounding a work site from any potential damage or harm caused during demolition or construction works. It helps lessen the impact on nearby residents, schools and businesses. It also provides relevant and accurate records that offer protection to contractors in the unfortunate event that they ever need to make a claim.
While it may seem like a complicated process with a lot of technical jargon, it really doesn’t have to be. Nowadays, construction noise calculations can be undertaken using powerful in-house software that allows possible mitigation options to be assessed before construction begins. This will pre-empt any significant issues as well as determine the level of noise associated with the project.
Local Authority Assessment
Within the UK, construction noise is closely governed by the Control of Pollution Act (1974). Section 60 of the act means that local authorities can take action if they consider that noise from construction is or is likely to, constitute a statutory nuisance.
Many local authorities require that the construction management plan for development includes consideration of how these aspects will be controlled and subsequently managed, but then also evidence that these controls are in place and that the contractor is aware of and responsive to any issues that arise from construction site noise and vibration monitoring.
Traditionally, this method has been carried out manually, with an individual calculating the level of construction site noise and vibration by physically being on site. However, due to the introduction of new technologies, by not having personnel on site to carry out these checks, it saves time and money. Additionally, using technology means that system levels are monitored continuously rather than sporadically when personnel are on site. This gives both the site and the local authority confidence that everything is under control and being managed accordingly.
Modern Technology and Construction Site noise and Vibration Monitoring
With the continual advancement of modern technology, today’s systems are flexible and discreet which allow for the professional monitoring of construction noise, dust monitoring or vibration. Of course, and if necessary, the full suite of noise, dust and vibration monitoring can be monitored simultaneously. There is an extensive database of noise levels that occur during construction activities.
Noise Pollution Isn’t the Only Problem
Construction sites can be places of high pollution, ranging from noise, air and water. However, there are specific measures that can then be taken to mitigate these risks. Of course, these don’t apply to every construction site, especially when site noise and vibration monitoring is the main focus. However, it’s always important to keep the effects of pollution in mind with any project – big or small. Here are some ways in which to stay on top of other aspects of pollution.
- Dust can be minimised through fine water sprays that dampen down the site.
- Screen the whole site to stop dust spreading, or alternatively, place fine mesh screening close to the dust source.
- By covering skips and trucks loaded with construction materials means that the spread of debris will be minimised.
- Ensuring that piles of building materials like cement, sand and other substances are covered, preventing them from being washed into waterways or other drainage areas.
- While not always possible on larger projects, using non-toxic paints, solvents and other hazardous materials wherever possible can help minimise pollution massively.
- Reduce noise pollution through handling materials carefully such as using modern, quiet power tools, equipment and generators which are low impact technologies.
- Ensure that there are adequate construction site noise and vibration monitoring taking place at all times to comply with government regulations.
Move with the Times
However, these regulations are not always respected by construction workers or even their employers. Construction companies often work against the clock to meet strict deadlines and to avoid penalty payments for being late which means that unsociable working hours take place, leaving neighbours and nearby residents disgruntled.
After decades of accelerated population growth and a lack of residential construction, most UK cities are at the height of a major building boom. Construction companies are pushing the limits of their capacity, and to catch up with the huge demand, a significant share of the workforce is working later and longer hours.
Therefore, it is now even more important than ever that sites consider their noise and vibration impacts to adjacent receptors, such as schools, hospitals, residential, office and commercial buildings. At HA Acoustics our expert acoustic consultants can talk through your site, devise a Construction Management Plan and support you with a Section 61 application to the local council. HA Acoustics acousticians can also install long-term, remote noise and vibration meters on your site, to continuously log the local noise and vibration levels that your construction activities generate. By setting triggers, you and ourselves will receive SMS/email alerts, advising that noise or vibration levels have been exceeded. This allows prompt corrective action to take place, thus reducing the impact to neighbours and decreasing the likelihood of your site receiving noise complaints and potentially even being temporarily being shut down by Council enforcement officers.
To find out more about HA Acoustics’s section construction management plan, section 61 or long-term remote noise and vibration monitoring services contact us online or call 01245206250.