It’s not realistic to expect construction site work not to be noisy. However, prolonged noise can lead to Health & Safety issues and disputes with the local community. Controlling noise reduction on your construction site is a legal requirement, and it helps to protect your workers, the public and the environment too.

In this blog, we’ll offer some handy ways in which you can prevent noise pollution on your construction site, helping you to stay compliant and reduce paying any fines.

Are there any time restrictions on when construction work can be carried out?

In the UK, the 1974 Pollution Control Act is “an Act to make further provisions concerning waste disposal, water pollution, noise, atmospheric pollution and public health; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid”. Essentially, this means putting measures in place to reduce pollution and protect public health and the environment. Building work on construction sites should be carried out between the hours of 8am and 6pm from Monday to Friday. The hours on Saturdays are from 8am to 1pm. This legislation aims to protect the public from noise pollution and air pollution.

There is also an additional piece of legislation – the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 which provides construction workers with protection from excessive noise. The regulation states that employers must provide hearing protection if noise levels reach 85 decibels and above for daily or weekly average exposure.

What does the HSE define as construction site noise?

Owing to the type of work carried out, the construction industry poses a high risk for noise pollution and associated Health & Safety risks. Generally, the rule of thumb outlined by the HSE is that if you have to raise your voice when standing two metres apart for part of the day, then noise levels are considered to be dangerous. Equally, sudden extremely loud noises from operated tools can cause health problems for workers on site.

Why is construction noise dangerous?

The adverse impact of construction noise can impact workers and members of the public too. Anybody working on the site near noisy work should wear the appropriate PPE, such as ear defenders. Whilst this can offer a good degree of protection for workers on site, people working, living or walking near the construction site won’t be afforded the same protection. If construction noise is exceptionally loud, there is an increased risk of damage to the hearing of people nearby. Adequate protection measures should be installed around the perimeter of the site to prevent any potential for this.

Where potential danger can be controlled, a more common issue is the disturbance and annoyance to local residents and workers. This can lead to complaints and potential legal complications for your business should you be reported to a local authority. It’s important to be vigilant before carrying out any work, and your construction site risk assessment should incorporate construction noise reduction measures.

The environmental impact of noise vibrations

Health & Safety risks associated with noise pollution aren’t just limited to hearing issues. People can be affected by Health & Safety issues that stem from noise vibrations. Where construction work is being carried out, associated risks should be assessed to ensure that work is carried out at a safe level that doesn’t cause tremors or vibrations where structural damage is a potential risk. Vibrations from sound can lead to cracks in structural buildings, and without the right due diligence being carried out, this can result in the partial or total collapse of a structure. Equally, cracks in pipework which carry water or gas can increase the risk of explosions or flooding.

If you are carrying out work in a rural setting, there are also environmental impacts to consider. Will the work carried out impact local wildlife or communities? This can lead to legal complications if animals and habitats that are impacted are listed as protected species. Therefore, your business should limit the negative impact on the environment, and this should be clearly outlined in your risk assessment.

Engineer making notes whilst listening to the foreman

Different ways to prevent noise pollution on construction sites

Effective measures should be taken to reduce noise pollution. As an employer, the buck stops with you to ensure preventive measures are implemented on-site. Below, we’ve put together a few handy tips to help prevent noise pollution on your construction site.

  • Use of equipment – If the equipment you are using is old, then the chances are the vibrations will be greater from worn bearings. Consider the equipment you will need to use to carry out the work. Are there any changes to the equipment you use that can lessen the impact of noise?
  • Coordinating work to minimise disruption – A site manager should consider how works are planned out to minimise the noise caused. Whilst construction site noise is inevitable at points, are there planning arrangements that can be made to minimise the level of noise for nearby workers and residents? Rotating shift patterns for your workers should also be implemented, minimising exposure to high noise pollution levels.
  • Installation of temporary noise reduction barriers – Construction noise can be reduced through the use of temporary barriers. They shield workers and nearby persons from sources of noise pollution, covering machinery and equipment to lessen the impact felt.
  • Avoid metal-to-metal contact – When metal meets metal – not only is this incredibly loud, but it also wears away the equipment, making it redundant to use. Consider the use of rubber pads to prevent friction, reduce noise and extend the lifespan of your equipment. These can be used between gates and doors as an example.
  • Provisions of appropriate PPE – All workers should be provided with PPE that protects their hearing. Ear defenders that offer adequate hearing protection should be worn whenever workers are operating loud machinery or tools.
Site Manager - SMSTS Training

Stay compliant with construction site regulations with our support

As there are many things to consider, staying compliant with legislation can be challenging. But with our support, we’ll help guide you through all the legislative requirements you need, all courtesy of our handy Worksafe PQQ package.

We’ll help you get all compliance requirements in order, covering everything from Health & Safety to environmental factors. We also offer SSIP Accreditation packages for both contractors and businesses, so you can showcase your certification to clients on request.

So, why not fill out an enquiry form and request a quote today to start your journey towards a safer construction site? Contact us and our team of experts will be able to point you in the right direction and help your business grow.