Noise and Vibration are inevitable side effects of construction, but with a proper plan, these can be mitigated and managed.
A robust assessment may assist a project during the planning phase or monitoring conditions maybe already have been set, but being considerate of your neighbours from the start can prevent issues and complaints, keeping things running smoothly.
Noise can be difficult to control, especially in a temporary work environment like a construction site. But there are ways to reduce the impact noise can have on the surrounding area.
A construction noise and/or vibration assessment may be requested by a local authority during the planning stages of a new project and will usually be performed in compliance with BS 5228.
The main aim of a construction noise assessment is to understand the likely levels of both noise and vibration arising from any proposed construction project. Noise and vibration may be excessive both in terms of the amount of noise that they generate, and the duration of proposed activities.
Additionally, ongoing monitoring is often requested to ensure that the levels of noise do not fall outside of anticipated levels, or that hours of work (and therefore noise) do not occur outside of those specified by the construction noise assessment.
How is monitoring done?
Noise, Vibration and Dust monitors may be required at a limited number of locations. Hardware may have simple features to ensure compliance or have advanced alerting and remote access features.
Data download can be done manually or managed remotley.
Powering the monitors needs to be considered which may be my batteries, solar or mains.
What is BS 5228?
This British Standard provides details concerning mitigation of noise and vibration arising from construction projects, ensuring they do not negatively impact on surrounding areas.
“Noise levels generated by construction activities are deemed to be significant if the total noise (pre-construction ambient plus construction noise) exceeds the pre-construction ambient noise by 5dB or more”
What is a Construction Noise and Vibration Management Plan?
A construction management plan defines the measures to control and limit noise emissions and vibration levels, at residential properties and other sensitive receptors in the vicinity of the project.
Best Practicable Means (BPM) of noise control should be applied to minimise noise (including vibration).
- Control across site by:
- Administrative and legislative control,
- Control of working hours,
- Control of delivery areas and times,
- Careful choice of compound location,
- Physically screening site,
- Control of noise via Contract specification of limits,
- Noise Monitoring, to check compliance with noise level limits, cessation of works until alternative method is found.
Many of the activities which generate noise can be mitigated to some degree by careful choice and operation of machinery and the use of tools.
How can noise be reduced?
Eliminating noisy processes or substituting them for a less noisy process are the best ways of dealing with noise on a construction site.
Here are some examples of how you can reduce noise:
- Early Planning During the Design Phase
- Considers the practicality of employing measures that can be incorporated to minimise noise and vibration levels.
- In many cases, simple measures can be highly effective if properly planned.
- Choose quiet plant and obstructing the path of noise to the receiver through the introduction of hoardings / acoustic barriers / layout design etc.
- The hours of work also need to be considered.
- Controlling Noise and Vibration on Site
- Designated site-based staff shall have the authority to take the steps necessary on behalf of the contractor(s) to ensure noise and vibration is adequately controlled and managed, according to the circumstances associated with each worksite.
- Site hoarding to be built and maintained to maximise the reduction in noise levels to sensitive buildings and land uses.
- Locate the site access away from noise sensitive receptors.
- Keep internal haul routes well maintained and avoid steep gradients.
- Limit material and plant loading and unloading to normal working hours.
- Reduce loading / unloading heights for muck away and material movement to mitigate impact noise.
- Handle all material in a manner that minimises noise.
- Plant Noise
- Adhere to ‘quiet hours’ as agreed and/or adopted by the local authority.
- Ensure that each item of plant and equipment complies with the noise limits.
- Fit all plant and equipment with appropriate mufflers or silencers.
- Shut down all plant and equipment in intermittent use in the intervening periods between works or throttle it down to a minimum.
- Ensure all vehicle movements occur within normal hours or at agreed times.
- Maximise the reuse of any waste arising on site to minimise vehicle movements.
- Plan deliveries and vehicle movements so that vehicles are not waiting or queuing on the public highway.
- Modern non-percussive demolition techniques need to be considered wherever practicable.
- Employ the use of acoustic screening where possible.
- Avoid demolition activities outside of normal working hours.
- Avoid percussive piling wherever possible.
- Consider the location and layout of the piling plant for efficient operation and potential noise control of generators etc.
- Where impact piling is the only option, utilise a non-metallic dolly between the hammer and driving helmet, or enclose the hammer and helmet within an acoustic shroud.
- Consider concrete pour sizes and pump locations.
- Prepare pile caps using methods / procedures which minimise the use of breakers, e.g. using hydraulic splitters to crack the top of the pile.
- Construction Phase
- When working within a building ensure all openings (e.g. windows and doors) are closed or sealed up.
- Plan the site layout to maximise screening from existing features / structures.
- Use prefabricated building structures or elements to minimise noise on site.
- Consider concrete pour sizes and plan the start of concrete pours as early as possible within normal working hours to avoid overruns.
- consider using an on- site, noise attenuated, concrete batching plant.
- Obtain and agree a protocol with concrete suppliers and sub-contractor with measures to ensure that as far as practicable overruns on concrete pours do not occur.
- Communication and Liaison
- It is important that good relations are built with people living and working within the vicinity of the worksite.
- The developer or contractor should communicate with neighbours on all planned works, especially for periods outside of normal working hours, where agreed.
What guidence exists?
There is no published statutory Irish guidance relating to the maximum permissible noise level that may be generated during the construction phase of a project. Local authorities normally control construction activities by imposing limits on the hours of operation and may consider noise limits at their discretion.
In the absence of specific noise limits, appropriate criteria relating to permissible construction noise levels may be found in the BS 5228-1:2009+A1:2014 Code of practice for noise and vibration control on construction and open sites –Noise.
Will need a monitoring programme?
The issue of noise & vibration may have been address to the satisfaction of the local authority in the planning stage and no further monitoring is required. This would likely require a prediction of the impact, based on the existing ambient noise levels and the plant and processes to be used.
However, some on-going monitoring may be required to prove compliance with any limits and to ensure that operational hours (and therefore noise) are being adhered to.