Sound Blankets For Construction Sites

Why Workers Need Sound Protection on Construction Sites

Most of the focus around reducing noise on construction sites tends to get drawn to the surrounding community and preventing disruption to their daily lives. So it can be quite easy to overlook the benefits of sound blankets and other noise reducing measures to the people who perhaps need it the most – the workers.

As you’ll see below, too much noise is a real hazard on construction sites and failing to adequately protect workers can result in some dire consequences for both the individuals and the companies that employ them.

How Noisy are Construction Sites?

Before we dive into the impact of too much noise and why sound blankets for construction sites are important, it’s worth explaining why these areas are so noisy and painting a picture of just how noisy they can be.

Construction sites are so loud, and the risk to workers so great, because the equipment they use regularly is above the allowable limits stipulated by occupational health and safety authorities. While this rule can vary slightly, most stipulate that workers must not be exposed to noise above 85 decibels (as an average) over eight hours at work.

For those of us who can’t relate to what 85 decibels (dB) actually sounds like, everyday household machines like blenders, lawnmowers and leaf blowers are listed as operating at a similar noise level. Another way to think of it is if you have to raise your voice to be heard, the noise level is likely to be 85dB or more.

While this level of noise probably doesn’t seem too bad in isolation, common machinery found on construction sites like forklifts emit sounds of 90 dB, while power saws and jackhammers can easily reach 120dB or more.

The risk becomes even more clear when you consider that loudness is measured on a logarithmic scale. This means that an increase of 10 decibels (dB) represents a 10-fold increase in sound intensity and a doubling of the perceived loudness.


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The impact of too much noise on construction sites

The risk of failing to control noise through sound blankets for construction sites and other measures is perhaps best summed up by leading Australian audiologist, Dr Ross Dineen at the Australian Institute of Health and Safety, who says, “Construction workers regularly experience noise levels up to six times the legal exposure limit and up to 75 per cent are developing tinnitus or permanent hearing loss as a result of their job.”

In addition to hearing loss and tinnitus, the Worksafe Queensland website lists the risks of hazardous noise at workplaces and construction sites as:

  • Interference with speech.
  • Interference with concentration and thought processes.
  • Disturbed sleep.
  • Fatigue and aggression.
  • Reduced immune response.
  • Acoustic shock.

They also believe it can be linked to other serious health effects that include high blood pressure, accelerated heart rate and even increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

How do sound blankets for construction sites help?

So, now that we know the risk of too much noise, back to the matter at hand – why do workers need sound blankets for construction sites?

From what we’ve discussed so far, it’s clear that too much noise is not a good thing for both workers and the companies that employ them and should be seen as a real threat to be minimised at every opportunity.

Due to the difficulties in eliminating noise during construction activities entirely, the most effective control measures are usually substitution, engineering controls and personal protective equipment.

You can see an example of this hierarchical approach to risk reduction in our previous post on how dust and noise cause health problems for mine workers.

Sound blankets for construction sites, such as sonic quilts and sonic acoustic curtains, are an excellent example of practical engineering controls for construction companies looking to provide a safer workplace for their workers.

These lighter weight barriers combine sound blocking and absorbing technology to create a versatile barrier that forms a key part of an effective overall noise reduction strategy.

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