Noise in construction

There are many noisy tasks in construction. Some of the main sources of noise in construction include: impacting tools (such as concrete breakers); use of explosives (such as blasting, cartridge tools); pneumatically powered equipment and internal combustion engines. Sinclair and Haflidson of the Construction Safety Association of Ontario (now known as Infrastructure Health and Safety Association) studied construction noise in Ontario. Their study in early 1990’s included various construction categories involving 27 construction projects and contractors’ facilities in Ontario. Noise dosimetry measurements from this study revealed the following: thermal electric generating plant refurbishing (107.7 dBA); gravel plant work (100.7 dBA); sewer/water main work (98.8 dBA), maintenance in a building (95.2 dBA), sheet metal fabrication (94.9 dBA), road and bridge construction (93.2 dBA) and residential construction (93.1 dBA).

In addition, the following chart provides noise levels in dBA associated with the operation of equipment found on construction sites.

Typical Noise Level Measurements for Construction Equipmentfootnote 2
Equipmentfootnote 3Noise Level (dBA) at Operator's Position
Cranes78 – 103
Backhoes85 – 104
Loaders77 – 106
Dozers86 – 106
Scrapers97 – 112
Trenchers95 – 99
Pile driversfootnote 4119 – 125
Compactors90 – 112
Grinders106 – 110
Chainsaws100 – 115
Concrete saw97 – 103
Sand blasting nozzle111 – 117
Jackhammers100 – 115
Compressors85 – 104

Noise in mining

Most of the of exposure to noise in mining comes from the need to use heavy machinery underground, but careful design and new technology and materials can be used to minimize this. Noise assessment in mining plants need to identify noise sources in order to effectively apply the hierarchy of controls. The table below provides some noise sources and exposures in mines and mining plants.

Noise Sources and Exposures in Mines and Mining Plantsfootnote 5
Noise SourceRange (dB)Midpoint
Cutting machines83 – 9388
Locomotives (electrical)85 – 9590
Haulage truck90 – 10095
Loaders95 – 10098
Long-wall shearers96 – 10199
Chain conveyors97 – 10099
Continuous miners97 – 103100
Loader-dumper97 – 102100
Fans90 – 110100
Pneumatic percussion tools114 – 120117

Noise in farming (agriculture industry)

Sources of hazardous noise in the farming/agriculture industry include machinery, equipment and livestock.

Sample Noise Levelsfootnote 6
Noise SourceRange (dB)
Chicken Coop; conventional voices60-70
Tractor idling; conveyors80
Diesel Trucks; Power Lawn Mowers95
Power Tools100

Noise and firefighting operations

NIOSH Survey of Noise Levels in Fire Department Surveysfootnote 7
Job description/sourceAverage noise levels
Maximum noise levels
Jump seat85–88105–106
Ventilation (sawing/blower)87–109110–114
Vehicle extraction (chisels/spreaders)90–10698–115
Fire suppression (ladders/water pumps)89–9184–98
Fire station (testing alarm/tools/engine)88–10192–116
Fire station (break room)6768


  • footnote[2] Back to paragraph Source: IHSA’s Construction Health and Safety Manual, Chapter 14: Hearing Protection
  • footnote[3] Back to paragraph Generally, newer equipment is quieter than older equipment.
  • footnote[4] Back to paragraph Pile drivers and explosive-actuated tools generate intermittent or “impulse” sound.
  • footnote[5] Back to paragraph Source: McBride, D (2004).Noise-induced hearing loss and hearing conservation in mining. Journal of Occupational Medicine, Vol. 54 (5).
  • footnote[6] Back to paragraph Source: WSPS Publication – Agricultural Safety Topics – Protecting Against Noise.
  • footnote[7] Back to paragraph Source: NIOSH Publication, “Promoting Hearing Health among Fire Fighters”.