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How to Reduce Construction Noise Pollution With Proper Maintenance

How to Reduce Construction Noise Pollution With Proper Maintenance

A hydraulic breaker being used on concrete

How to Reduce Construction Noise Pollution With Proper Maintenance

Reading time: 6 min

Between the hum of diesel engines, the grinding of concrete saws and the rumbling of a dozer, construction sites can be noisy places. Noise pollution from construction sites isn’t just a nuisance, though, it can have real impacts on employee wellbeing, community safety and the natural environment.

Noise pollution is defined as any excessive noise or sound that degrades the surrounding environment and impacts our health. This not-so-silent threat needs to be well-managed on construction sites in order to limit its impact.

Some common sources of noise pollution on construction sites include the operation of heavy equipment, demolition of large structures and specific tasks like concrete cutting and welding.

While excessive noise on construction sites can’t be eliminated entirely, it can be managed so as to minimize its negative effects on the surrounding environment. One critical aspect of managing noise pollution is ensuring that your construction equipment is well-maintained.

By properly maintaining your heavy equipment fleet, you can reduce noise pollution and improve the quality of your construction site. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of noise pollution on construction sites and how you can limit its impact through an adequate heavy equipment maintenance strategy.

Effects of Construction Noise Pollution – In Depth

While noise pollution isn’t visible, its effects are plain to see. The effects of noise pollution are wide ranging, from damaging human health to influencing the behavior of affected wildlife.

How Workers are Affected by Excessive Noise

One of the biggest threats posed by noise pollution is its potential to impact the health of construction workers and residents living near the job site.

In fact, the dangers of noise pollution are so well-known that OSHA mandates the use of hearing protective equipment whenever employees may be exposed to an average noise level of 85 decibels or more (over an 8-hour period).

Some of the health problems commonly associated with noise pollution include:

  • Hearing Damage and Loss: Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can lead to irreversible hearing damage or loss among both construction workers and nearby residents.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Constant noise can elevate stress levels among employees and residents, leading to anxiety and other potential mental health issues.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Construction workers exposed to noise and residents living nearby may experience difficulties sleeping, leading to irritability, fatigue and reduced job or daily performance.
  • Increased Risk of Accidents: Noise can mask important audible warnings and signals, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries on construction sites and potentially endangering residents.
  • Elevated Blood Pressure: Chronic exposure to loud noise has been linked to elevated blood pressure among workers and nearby residents, contributing to cardiovascular problems over time.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Studies have suggested that chronic exposure to noise pollution may lead to cognitive impairments, particularly in children and older adults, affecting their learning and memory abilities.
  • Interference with Daily Activities: Noise pollution can disrupt everyday activities such as reading, working from home, baseball practice or concentrating on tasks, negatively affecting the quality of life for residents.

Effects of Excessive Noise on Surrounding Wildlife Near Construction Sites

The negative effects of noise pollution don’t stop at employees and residents, they extend to wildlife too. Just like humans, animals near a noisy construction site can become agitated and stressed, leading to a range of problems, including:

  • Altered migration patterns
  • Habitat abandonment
  • Hearing damage
  • Changes in foraging behavior
  • Impacts on aquatic life

Causes of Construction Noise Pollution – In Depth

While noise is an accepted part of construction projects, it doesn’t have to reach excessive levels. The amount of noise pollution on a construction site can be reduced by strategically managing its causes.

Types of Machines That Generate the Most Noise

Certain machines on construction sites are generally louder than others. 

When creating a plan to manage sound pollution on your job site, strategically limiting the use of these machines will have the greatest impact:

  • Concrete saws
  • Hydraulic breakers
  • Augers
  • Welders
  • Bulldozers
  • Hydraulic chippers and scrapers
  • Grinders
Why A Machine Might Start Making More Noise Than Usual

Under certain conditions, machines might suddenly start making more noise than usual. If one of your machines suddenly starts making excessive noise, any number of factors could be responsible, depending on the type of equipment and how it’s being used.

Common culprits for a noisy machine include loose parts, such as nuts and bolts, insufficient lubrication and a malfunctioning engine. Machines that use water lubrication, such as concrete saws, may also become louder if you aren’t using sufficient water during their operation.

How to Limit Noise Pollution Through Maintenance

Failure to properly maintain heavy equipment is a major cause of noise pollution on construction sites. Certain maintenance tasks should be performed regularly in order to keep your machines running as smoothly and quietly as possible.

Here are some areas of heavy equipment maintenance that are crucial to keeping your machines operating quietly:

  • Replace Bearings on Time: Bearings play a crucial role in reducing friction within various heavy equipment components. Worn-out or damaged bearings can produce excessive noise as they struggle to maintain smooth movement. Regularly inspect and replace bearings as needed to ensure they function optimally and reduce noise generation.

  • Inspect Shock Pads Regularly: Shock pads, also known as dampers or isolators, are essential for absorbing vibrations and preventing them from propagating into the surrounding environment. Damaged or deteriorated shock pads should be replaced to maintain effective vibration isolation and reduce noise emissions.

  • Refresh Fluids According to Schedule: Proper fluid maintenance is essential for the equipment's overall performance and noise reduction. Regularly change and refresh hydraulic fluids, engine oils and lubricants according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Clean fluids ensure efficient equipment operation and minimize noise caused by friction and wear.

  • Keep Components Properly Lubricated: Lubrication is critical for reducing friction and wear in moving parts of construction equipment. Inadequate lubrication can result in noisy and inefficient operation. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for lubricating components such as gears, chains, and joints to minimize noise and extend equipment lifespan.

  • Install Acoustical Silencers: Acoustical silencers or mufflers are specifically designed to reduce noise emitted from the equipment's exhaust system. Installing high-quality silencers can significantly decrease engine noise, making the equipment quieter and less disruptive to the surroundings.

  • Inspect and Tighten Loose Components: Loose components, such as bolts, nuts or fasteners, can rattle and contribute to noise pollution. Regularly inspect and tighten all loose components to prevent unnecessary vibrations and noise.

Safety Practices

While properly maintaining your heavy equipment can help reduce noise pollution, it cannot eliminate it entirely. Therefore, it’s important to train operators and employees to follow recommended safety practices.

Some basic measures include providing your employees with hearing protection equipment, such as ear muffs, plugs or caps. Workers’ exposure to noise pollution can also be minimized by reducing the number of employees on the job during noisy tasks, like concrete cutting or demolition activities.

Final Thoughts

Maintaining your heavy equipment isn’t just useful for bolstering your team’s efficiency, it’s essential to ensuring the safety of employees, neighbors and wildlife.

The EquipmentShare Shop carries OEM and aftermarket parts that can replace the worn out or damaged parts in your equipment, helping you minimize noise pollution. Our shop also makes it easy to order personal hearing protection equipment for your team, keeping them safe on the job.

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