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Cutting through the construction noise

Noise may be an occupational hazard on construction sites. But new technology from Wood & Grieve Engineers (WGE) eliminates the endless engineers’ reports and puts noise control in the palm of the client’s hand.

You can hear a pin drop at 10 decibels and a whisper at 30. A jackhammer assaults the ears at 110 decibels and a thunderclap shocks the senses at 120.

Noise is highly subjective and what is acceptable to one person may be irritating to another. But anything above 50 decibels is generally considered noisy – whether that’s in a buzzing workplace or a quiet suburb street.

While regulation varies across Australia’s states and territories, construction noise should generally not exceed 5-10dB above the background levels, says WGE’s acoustics section manager Imran Khan.

“Regardless of whether you’re a builder working on a residential development surrounded by neighbours or a project manager on an office retrofit with tenants on other floors, managing noise is a huge challenge,” Khan says.

With a background in mechanical engineering, Khan has spent the last decade working in the field of acoustics and vibration. He says his role is to apply objectivity, mathematics and physics to construction projects to ensure people enjoy optimal comfort.

Khan and his colleagues have recently rolled out a new cloud-based acoustic monitoring system which is helping construction clients around the country to manage noise levels on building projects.

“When noise levels approach target level, the builder automatically receives an alert via text message or email, which means they can proactively deal with the issue before it becomes a problem,” Khan says.

WGE’s system supports a range of stakeholders, including builders, clients, residents and tenants, and is being used to manage vibration as well as noise.

The feedback from clients has been positive and Khan points to one landlord working on a retrofit of a large office “who was able to engage with other tenants to determine an acceptable level of noise and then deploy our technology to proactively manage that”.

“Where once people had to rely on a weekly acoustic engineer’s report, now the information is instant and right there in the palm of the client’s hand,” Khan adds.

But before you rush off to purchase acoustic equipment online, Khan has some clear advice.

“Purchasing equipment is not enough. You need the expertise of an acoustic engineer who understands how to make the most of the technology – to set parameters, analyse and adjust to get the best outcome for everyone.”

Article courtesy of Property Council of Australia; first published 6 June 2018. 

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