What is an Environmental Noise Assessment?

Many years ago, noise was an accepted part of certain work and employees were allowed to suffer health problems as a consequence of that work. Now we live in more enlightened times, and laws and regulations have been established to stop that from happening.

A consequence of this is that, in certain circumstances such as new developments, business owners may be required to undertake an environmental noise assessment. This will establish if the development will create excessive noise that will damage employees’ health or adversely affect anyone and, if it does, will determine corrective action.

What an Environmental Noise Assessment Involves

An assessment can involve two levels:

  • firstly, a preliminary survey to determine representative noise levels, understand activities and identify which are the noisiest, and
  • secondly, a detailed assessment to evaluate and measure the noise that similar groups of employees or other people are exposed to each day.

The aims are to:

  • identify any noise issues, their sources and those affected by them;
  • measure background noise levels and those resulting from activity in the immediate area;
  • calculate the allowed limits set by legislation and compare them to the measured operational levels, and
  • assess the likely impact of noise levels and recommend ways to make them comply with legislation.

Allowance has to be made for the length of time people are exposed to noise.

For an existing property, measurements are made of current noise levels with a view to reducing them if necessary. In the case of a proposed new development, any noise created by it e.g. proposed vehicular movement/mechanical plant/patron/occupant/operational noise…  will have to be estimated based on known levels while noise from surrounding properties and activities will also be taken into account. Recommendations may involve the fitting of better acoustic insulation/barriers to attenuate any offensive noise from being intrusive.

Undertaking a Thorough and Proper Environmental Noise Assessment

The New South Wales Work Health and Safety Regulations require an occupational noise assessment to be undertaken in all workplaces, including companies, charities and other organisations, to ensure noise standards are not exceeded. Similarly, planning officers may stipulate that noise assessments are necessary for proposed residential developments to check the effect of nearby roads, airports or commercial premises. All these assessments are required to be carried out by a competent person, who will generally have a relevant degree and understand the behaviour of sound waves.

It is also necessary to understand how businesses work because any recommendations made to alleviate noise have to be practical within the operation of an organisation. For example, recommending the use of ear protection that prevents employees from being aware of the movements of machinery around them may avoid hearing loss but cause injuries as a result of accidents.

At Koikas Acoustics, we use the latest sound meters and measuring equipment to determine noise levels accurately so we can compare them to permitted levels. We take all extenuating factors into account and make recommendations that are practical and effective. We also keep you fully informed throughout the entire process so you know what’s happening and there are no nasty shocks.

The outcome is a development that is more likely to receive planning permission or a factory that complies fully with health and safety legislation in respect of noise levels. That leads to a happier and healthier workforce, higher productivity, reduced business interruptions, a lower risk of legal action and improved relations with the local community.

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