How to Prevent Noise Pollution in Construction and Protect Workers’ Hearing | When you think about construction-related injuries, you likely think of falls, damage to a person’s hands or something similar. But another common construction-related issue is noise-induced hearing loss. Due to the loudness of common construction equipment and workers’ close proximity to the source of the loud noise, hearing loss and tinnitus are common issues for workers.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control found that approximately 14 percent of all construction workers have hearing difficulty and about 51 percent of all workers in Construction have been exposed to hazardous noise.
Loud noises from construction sites not only affect workers, but also the communities near the construction site. One of the byproducts from construction noise is noise pollution. Construction-related noise pollution can contribute to wide-ranging dangers such as elevated blood pressure in adults and disruption to the routines of local wildlife.
What are the dangers of noise pollution?
Beyond the hearing loss and tinnitus, noise pollution can cause many psychological effects only only for construction workers, but for those living near the source of the noise. Here are a few of those dangers:
- Trouble sleeping: For those living near a construction site that may be doing work at night to avoid excessive heat during the day, this can pose a real problem when it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep. Noise pollution can disturb a person’s sleep habits, making it difficult to fall into deep sleep that is so crucial to the body and the mind.
- Hinders child development: Exposure to noise pollution not only affects adults, but children, as well. Excessive noise can affect children’s hearing, which can lead to trouble concentrating in school.
- Psychological issues: Noise pollution has been shown to trigger stress and anxiety in both children and adults.
How can noise be reduced on a construction site?
Though noise pollution poses so many problems for construction workers and the surrounding community, there are steps that can be taken to reduce noise pollution on-site. Here are a few of those ways:
1. Eliminate Noise in the Design Stage
Before construction even begins, tools can be retrofitted and checked to ensure they are the quietest they can be. A few examples include:
- Covering metal tables, metal wheels and other metal pieces with rubber to reduce noise vibration
- Lining tumbling barrels, metal chutes and hoppers with an elastic material to reduce mechanical shock between parts
- Reducing noise resulting from vibration of beams and plates
2. Add Noise Barriers
While they don’t eliminate noise, noise barriers block the direct path of sound waves from the source of noise, protecting workers and the community from noise exposure. A few examples of machinery you may want to add noise barriers to include saws and jackhammers.
3. Use Sound-Absorbing Materials
Materials such as metal, wood and concrete are sound-reflective materials that sound waves bounce off of. Instead, choose materials such as carpet, foam padding or fiberglass insulation that absorb sound. Place these types of materials on floors, ceilings and walls to help reduce sound reverberation.
4. Optimize Your Equipment
There are modifications you can make to reduce the noise that construction equipment emits. A popular option is to use acoustical silencers in intake and exhaust systems, such as internal combustion exhaust systems or air conditioning systems.
To better understand the many ways that you can reduce noise and the potential harm of noise pollution, Big Rentz created this helpful infographic that outlines even more ways that you can keep workers and the community safe from excessive noise and ensure employee’s safety while on the job. </p