Construction sites are inherently noisy due to the many activities taking place. While it’s a standard safety practice to have your workers wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as earplugs, that may not be enough to prevent health issues from arising. It also doesn’t cover the health risks, and inconveniences posed to bystanders or residents. PPE can be considered a minimum requirement of noise control; use these other methods to minimize the noise created at your site.
Use low-noise equipment
Equipment is at the heart of most noise-generating activities which take place at a construction site. Thus, addressing the issue through low-noise power tools and heavy machinery is one of the most effective ways of reducing noise pollution from your site.
If no ready-made, low-noise alternative is available, then custom builds can accomplish the same effect. Front-end loaders or excavators can be fitted with improved exhaust and intake mufflers, and flexible hydraulic hoses secured with Jubilee clips can take the place of rigid pipes to absorb vibration.
Build noise barriers
Often, the noisiest work at a construction site can be confined to a few active areas at any given time. Building barriers to absorb the noise can have a significant effect on noise levels outside the enclosure, and you can set up the barrier in a modular fashion so that it can be disassembled and relocated as activity moves elsewhere. Special commercial panels made of sound-absorbent material can be used, but you can also substitute local construction materials such as brick or plywood for a cost-effective alternative.
Schedule and rotate work
At the administrative level, it’s also possible to minimize the impact of noise pollution created by your site’s activities on the local population. Increasing the distance of ongoing work from nearby sensitive locations such as schools or offices will limit the disruption caused.
You can also arrange a working schedule around the hours where it will have the least impact – avoid evenings near residences, for instance. Workers themselves can be rotated so that no individual is assigned to tackle a prolonged shift with the corresponding hazardous noise exposure levels.
Any lack of maintenance in your equipment will not only shorten its expected lifespan, but in the short term, it can increase noise pollution as well. Lack of lubrication in heavy machinery creates awful, loud grinding or scraping sounds which can, in turn, mask other noises which indicate possible mechanical trouble.
Implement a system at your worksite which covers the scheduled maintenance and servicing of all equipment. This makes the site quieter, improves performance efficiency, and alerts personnel to possible dangers or malfunctions due to wear and tear damaged or imbalanced parts, or obstructions.
Zoning work areas
Setting up noise perimeter zones can ensure that only essential personnel need to be involved in areas where high noise levels are unavoidable, despite all other measures you’ve taken. Measure the noise level at a distance from the source where it’s acceptable, then rope off and mark the area within which hearing protection is required. See to it that only workers who need to be there are allowed to enter these areas of 90 dBA or higher, and wear their hearing protection at all times.
There will always be a higher level of noise at any construction site compared to the surroundings. By taking these measures, you can minimize the disruption you pose to locals and also reduce the health risks to your on-site personnel each day.