Landscape construction sites are often noisy. Activities such as excavating, jack hammering, mowing and chain sawing can be loud and offensive to neighbours.
Three major issues
There are three major issues to consider when managing noise:
Loud noise is a form of pollution. It can be annoying to neighbours and a source of complaints. However, people are much more likely to put up with reasonable noise disturbances if they know approximately when they will occur and how long they will last.
Identify any residents, businesses, schools or other neighbours who may be affected by noise from your site. If possible, make contact with these people to tell them what you are planning to do, for how long and at what times.
Find out the times which will be best or worst for these people (e.g. class times at school and rest times at hospitals should be avoided) and try to fit in with their needs.
Give them a contact name and telephone number for someone who will be at the site so they can ring if the noise is becoming too loud.
2 Damage to hearing
Loud noise, especially if it is sustained over long periods, is dangerous and can physically damage your hearing. Make sure that particularly noisy operations stop regularly to give people (both on and off site) a break from the noise. Provide hearing protection for people on site if necessary.
3 The law
By law, machinery must be maintained in an efficient condition, and operated in a proper manner, to avoid unnecessary noise.
The local council may have set development conditions relating to noise. These may restrict operating hours and specific uses of machinery.
Regulations also set time limits on when noisy equipment can be used. Generally noisy working hours should be restricted to between 7 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday and between 8 am and 11 pm on Saturdays; with no noisy work performed on Sundays or public holidays.
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Reducing noise impact
Four general principles can be used in reducing the impact of noise:
Modify activities or devices to produce less noise
Keep machinery in good repair, especially mufflers. Think of alternative means of accomplishing the same tasks. For example, in some instances a bush saw may be
as effective as a chain saw and brooms can replace leaf blowers.
Where possible, order materials pre-cut to avoid cutting on site.
Shield noisy devices or processes
Use acoustic boxes or sound barriers around noisy machinery (such as portable generators or air compressors).
Shield workers and others within earshot
Follow occupational health and safety guidelines and use protective clothing and earmuffs – especially when the exposure to noise is for extended periods.
Move noise sources away from people
Distance also reduces the effect of noise. Where practical, machinery running constantly such as generators or air compressors should be sited as far away as possible.
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Make the most of design opportunities
Landscaping can provide opportunities to reduce noise at a location.
To combat external noise sources such as road noise, incorporate acoustic barriers into a landscape design. Earth mounds or masonry walls provide the best barrier.
Other measures can be incorporated into the landscape design to improve the noise environment.
For example, the sounds of running water or fountains can mask other noises. The sound of wind blowing through certain tree species (e.g. Allocasuarina spp.) can have the same effect.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011