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HSEQ Issue 19 Cover Banner sml

Promoting Occupational Safety & Health In The Construction Industry

By Colin Gaskin
Team Leader, Compliance Unit
The Occupational Safety and Health Agency

Issue 19 P41smlAchieving and maintaining a sustainable framework to promote good Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) practices in the construction industry must be a cooperative and collaborative effort among all stakeholders. The client has a significant influence over how a project is run, for instance unrealistic deadlines and the failure to allocate sufficient funds may contribute to poor risk control on a site.  Clients must also recognise their responsibility to adhere to the highest standards of procurement practice; specifically this should include ensuring the competence of organisations recruited for projects. Prior to an appointment, an assessment of the firm’s organisation and arrangements for safety and health in addition to their experience and track record must be adequately conducted. Good procurement practice mandates that the experience of the contractor match the complexity and associated risks of the project. Often flaws in the system and deficiencies in the procurement mechanism lead to incompetent firms being awarded contracts with inevitable poor management of projects, cost/time overruns and, as a natural consequence, critical injuries and fatalities on worksites.

Noise Pollution Sources, Effects and Recommendations to Help Address the Growing Nuisance

By Norma Cherry-Fevrier
Department of Planning and National Development
Castries, Saint Lucia

In the quest for increased development and economic growth, environmental noise pollution is also increasing.  In the Caribbean, familiar disturbing sounds from the neighbours’ stereo set, heavy equipment, industry, lawn mowers and transportation to name a few, all contribute to the unwanted noises that communities have to deal with on a daily basis.  Singh and Davar (2004) state that noise is derived from a Latin word “nausea” that means unwanted sound or sound that is loud, unpleasant or unexpected, much of which emanates from human activities.  These unwanted noises are not simply nuisances, but can have a wide range of negative effects on the health of human beings.  As a result, Governments must put measures in place to control and minimise noise pollution and its negative effects, especially on residential communities.  This article will discuss some of the general sources and effects of noise pollution and use an example from a residential community in Saint Lucia to show how residents can cause change where the noise pollution problem affects their community.  Also, recommendations will be presented as to how Governments can address the growing issue that is unavoidable as populations grow, development increases and changes in technology occur.

Noise Pollution in the Hospital: A Clinical Problem

By Martin Anderson
A&E Charge Nurse
North Middlesex University Hospitals
London, England

Many have never thought that noise can be critical to patients’ care, more so the thought of noise to be a problem in a modern hospital. As we develop the hospital industrial units this concept must not be ignored any longer. As a charge nurse in a busy London hospital, an online poll was created to ascertain patient’s views on the topic of noise in a hospital or clinical setting.

The simplest definition of noise that we have is “unwanted sound,” but that is highly subjective (Sharp, 2012). Noise is an audible acoustic energy that disturbs the physiological and psychological well being of people. Noise pollution has been escalating at such a high rate that it is now considered a major threat to the quality of human lives. In the past thirty years, noise has been increasing rapidly particularly in urban areas, due to the modern technological developments such as industry and transportation. These developments are urging legislators to organise and issue new rules and legislation to control noise pollution and protect people from its hazardous effects (Stansfeld and Matheson, 2003). The Environmental Agency in the UK best highlights the difference between sound and noise. They describe sound as a sensation detected by the ear as a result of pressure variations set up in the air by a vibrating source while noise is defined as unwanted sound or sound that is not desired by the recipient.  Although the various physical attributes of sound can be quantified, the subjective aspects of noise are much more difficult to assess.  The degree of annoyance and stress that can result from exposure to noise is almost impossible to quantify, since responses may vary widely between individuals. However in early as 1859, the importance of noise in health care has been recognised, as evidenced by a statement in 1859 by Florence Nightingale, “Unnecessary noise, then, is the most cruel absence of care which can be inflicted either on sick or well.” cited in Bailey, (1994).

People are affected by noise pollution every day. As one of the four major forms of pollution in the world, noise pollution reduces the quality of the urban environment and human health. It has been estimated that about 80 million people (approximately 20% of the population) in the European Union suffer from noise levels considered unacceptable (above 65 dB [decibels] in so-called “black areas”), while an additional 170 million people are living in “grey areas” exposed to noise levels between 55 and 65 dB (European Community, 2012).

From the definitions above it can be seen that not all sounds are noise and the definition of noise is conceptual. The normal audible frequency for young persons ranges from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The non audible frequencies come in two regions, the infrasonic region below 20 Hz and the ultrasonic region above 20 kHz (Marieb, 2006). The Environmental Agency (2004) illustrates typical sound levels in everyday situations.

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