Noise pollution is a rapidly rising threat to human life and biodiversity. Affecting millions of people, flora, and fauna daily, it is a widespread problem. From traffic horns to loud parties, noise pollution is everywhere, including construction sites. Construction noise, such as sound made by construction equipment and machinery, causes headaches, increases blood pressure, and affects hearing.
What is Noise Pollution?
Pollution means harmful materials in the environment, called pollutants, which severely impact the surroundings. Noise pollution consists of pollutants that sonically affect human and animal life. Noisy environmental materials negatively impact the health of living beings and the Earth.
Noise is measured in decibels; any sound exceeding 85 decibels over eight hours is considered noise pollution. Construction employees are asked to wear protective gear to minimize incoming sound, guarding them against noise pollution.
Noise Pollution and its Effects
In addition to causing annoyance and frustration, noise pollution in construction areas can have long-lasting and adverse effects on workers and nature. It takes various forms and causes harm to you and your surroundings in multiple ways, including:
One of the most significant and concerning effects of noise pollution is loss of hearing. Exposure to loud noise over long periods can damage the inner ear, resulting in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Depending on the level of exposure, you can feel the effects of NIHL immediately or over time. It can be permanent or temporary and can affect one or both ears.
Health and Well-being
Uncontrolled exposure to loud noise can increase blood pressure, lead to heart problems, cause irregular sleep, elevate stress, and worsen your mental health by increasing stress and anxiety.
According to a study by Queen’s University Belfast, noise pollution endangers over a hundred species, threatening their survival. Noise pollution puts the lives of both marine and land animals at risk.
Land animals rely on sound waves to hunt for feed, and noise pollution can affect their hearing, preventing them from finding food. On the other hand, construction projects occurring underwater disturb sound waves required by marine life to communicate.
Types of Noise Control
Noise control is necessary to protect construction workers from loud noise and its subsequent effects. While eliminating loud noise at construction sites might be impossible due to the scale of projects, noise control can minimize its exposure. Even if noise control methods cannot entirely absorb noise, they reduce the decibels by a significant margin. Primarily, there are two types of noise control techniques: pattern control and equipment control.
Pattern control entails modifying construction behaviors, activities, and schedules. Monitoring the construction site to optimize workers’ timetables and informing them about noise control prevention protects their health from loud noise. For instance, employees could take shifts operating noisy equipment to limit prolonged exposure.
Unlike pattern control, equipment control changes machinery to reduce noise damage. Altering equipment can absorb or change the direction of noise away from the source to optimize its effect. For instance, you can invest in tools that don’t make heavy noise, regularly oil and maintain your equipment to avoid jamming or rust or separate the machine and workers using a separator.
Ways to Curb Noise Pollution
From altering employee schedules to adding noise barriers, you can make your workplace safer and protect your staff from noise pollution in various ways, such as:
Buy the Right Equipment
When creating a project plan to map out its design and lifecycle, choose machinery that does not emit loud noise. Metal does not absorb noise; it bounces it. Therefore, if your project requires metal, cover metallic appliances and surfaces, such as wheels and bars, before starting your project to minimize noise movement. You can also alter machinery parts to stop unnecessary vibration and movement or bind barrels using elastic bands to reduce shock waves.
Sound-absorbing materials, such as rock wool, thick fabric coverings, and fiberglass, reduce loud construction sounds. Materials like wood and metal reflect sounds, meaning sound reaching these surfaces bounces off them and spreads. On the other hand, surfaces that absorb sound minimize sound vibration and reverberation from walls and ceilings.
Noise barriers stop noise from traveling. They obstruct the direction of sound waves, protecting the surroundings from loud sounds. Instead of removing noise altogether, they reduce its impact and level. Noise barriers cover the noise source using sound-absorbing tools made of rock wool or fiberglass, stopping it from going further.
Gear for Workers
In addition to using sound barriers and absorbers, you should also provide your workers with protective gear. Equipping them with an essential noise prevention kit, including earmuffs and plugs, guards their ears and senses against excessive noise, preventing headaches and hearing loss.
Noise pollution is a persistent issue in construction sites. Since construction projects require heavy and noisy machinery, workers are exposed to them for prolonged periods, affecting their health. Additionally, loud noise also negatively impacts wildlife and biodiversity. Using sound-controlling tools and providing your employees with noise-cancellation gear keeps them safe and protected.