Environmental Noise

Did you know that, according to the European Environment Agency (2018) environmental noise causes approximately 16,600 cases of premature death each year, with almost 32 million adults estimated to suffer annoyance and over 13 million adults estimated to suffer sleep disturbance! [see article].

What is the difference between environmental and occupational noise?

There is a significant difference between the nature of ‘environmental’ noise versus ‘occupational’ noise.’

Environmental noise is defined as any unwanted sound in the vicinity of the home or its surroundings – including industrial noise from construction sites or noise from traffic or other forms of transport. It’s usually measured at much lower levels, and often linked with transport, road traffic, rail traffic, air traffic, and from industrial sites, often termed ‘nuisance’ noise.

Occupational noise is generally encountered within the workplace, where some noise is to be expected and deemed ‘acceptable’, and where the measurements of worker exposure can be measured against regulated hygiene limits. [see article]

Noise impact assessment methodologies

The way we respond to environmental noise can vary widely between individuals. Some people experience psychological or physical effects because of exposure to a particular ‘nuisance’ noise. Whereas others may not even notice the noise, or if they do, not be adversely affected.

BS 4142, the method for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound, provides a way of assessing the likely impact of a source of industrial or commercial ‘noise’. It is the UK’s most widely used standard for the assessment of environmental noise.

BS 4142 uses a 'rating level' – this is based on a comparison between the noise which is being assessed and the background noise which would exist without it. The rating level is then modified by any corrections for the character of the sound, be that tonal, impulsive, or intermittent. Therefore, measurements need to be taken at different times of the day and night to assess the excess of rating noise over the background noise.

How can we help?

Environmental noise surveys are usually required when an industrial plant or process is perceived to impact the local surroundings, or during the approval process for infrastructure development projects which can cause noise pollution and impact local residents.  

When the source of noise is considered a nuisance, clients should consider carrying out an environmental noise survey to determine whether it’s too loud and whether changes to onsite processes need to be actioned, such as.

  • Change operating procedures or the times that the impacting activities occur
  • Use of ‘white noise’ reverse warnings instead of the traditional yard vehicles
  • Planting of tress or hedges to limit the noise emitted at the site boundary

Whatever your need, we’re happy to discuss how we can support you.

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Ben Massey

Business Development - Occupational Health & Hygiene T: +44 (0) 1235 437 100 Email
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Milton Keynes | UK

Tracey Bailey

Business Development Manager - Occupational Hygiene T: +44 1235 437 100 Email
Milton Keynes | UK

Matt Bates

Technical Director - Occupational Hygiene T: +44 (0) 1235 437 100 Email
Milton Keynes | UK

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