We live in an increasingly noisy world where we often accept the sound around us and become immune to its effect. However, in many cases that’s not a sensible thing to do because excessive noise can be damaging to our well-being.
Living with constant noise can be wearing and can cause damage to physical and mental health. Some of the noise can be quickly avoided if the source can be stopped (such as neighbours playing loud music). Other types, including traffic noise, are more difficult to avoid and often require a longer-term solution.
Excessive noise at work can be a major problem due to the use of loud machinery, techniques in extractive industries and other sources. Not only is this dangerous for employees’ health (particularly hearing loss) but it can also reduce productivity due to the distractions it causes. More particularly for an employer, non-compliance with legislation and regulations that relate to noise levels at work can result in severe penalties.
Assessing the Level and Effect of Noise
Taking a chance that your property is compliant with noise legislation, is a risky business and can prove costly. Instead, it is far better to let noise assessment consultants monitor and assess the property. This involves:
- identifying noise issues and their source;
- determining who is affected by the noise and its extent;
- measurement of any noise levels, including background noise and that caused by particular activities;
- calculating the maximum noise levels permitted through legislation;
- comparing actual levels to the limits that apply and assessing the difference, and
- recommending actions that need to be taken to ensure compliance.
Measuring and monitoring levels can be a short-term exercise when a consultant is physically present to take measurements or can be undertaken over a longer period. In the latter case, instrumentation will be installed for continuous monitoring. Recommendations for cost effective and practical solutions can then be determined using state-of-the-art techniques.
The Outcomes and Benefits of Noise Assessment
Noise is a recognised problem due to the annoyance and health issues it can cause. It is known to cause stress, lost productivity, hearing loss and may also contribute to illnesses as well as interfering with communication. Excessive noise can also conflict with legislation so it is in your interest to make sure any property you develop or use is not a source of concern.
Undertaking a noise assessment means you:
- are aware of any potential offensive noise issues and can take action to mitigate or eradicate them;
- are more likely to gain permission for any development;
- will have better relations with employees, neighbours and the general community;
- are less prone to legal action, and
- will be better prepared for future environmental changes.
The benefits you experience and the action needed will depend on the extent of the problem — the level and frequency of noise, the number of people affected, distance from the noise source (such as road/rail). Of course, the effects of noise can be more easily countered if planned from the start of a new build. Making modifications to something that already exists is less simple but still possible.
Different states and regions have varying levels of legislation so compliance in one area doesn’t necessarily mean compliance elsewhere. So make sure you know what’s required or, better still, employ a company that does because it specialises in noise assessments and knows exactly what is needed.
You owe it to yourself, your employees and anyone else to ensure they’re not adversely affected by noise pollution. And, if you don’t do anything, you may suffer penalties arising from non-compliance.