Workers carrying out kerbside collections of glass for recycling can be exposed to high levels of noise.

In 2011, WRAP published the findings of a series of noise surveys that advised how all recycling collection systems had the potential to generate noise exposure levels which could potentially exceed action values defined in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, and that some vehicles and collections had the potential to breach legal limits.

In 2016, WRAP extended the previous study due to the availability of new collection vehicles and variations to collection systems being used to collect glass for recycling. This document presents the results of the surveys and again advises on potential noise exposure levels that can be expected from the different vehicles and the collections systems employed. The report is intended to provide a basis for WRAP to further illustrate the potential risks of noise exposure in glass recycling collections.

Noise exposure levels have been determined for 19 recycling collection operations, on a range of vehicle types employing the following systems:

  1. kerbside sort
  2. two stream partially co-mingled
  3. three stream partially co-mingled

One of the kerbside sort vehicles tested included trial noise reduction features intended to reduce noise exposure of operatives.

The field surveys required an acoustic consultant to travel with and shadow the crew during normal work activities. Extensive measurements were made of noise levels close to the operative’s ears during different collection activities using precision grade instruments. The activities varied according to the type of collection system and vehicle design but generally included a single kerbside box sort at the vehicle, a quick drop of materials to a trough or stillage, a hydraulic bin lift and tip to vehicle, and use of slave bin fills.

The investigation did not set out to undertake tailored noise at work assessments, accounting for specific operations of a local authority or private waste collection business. The approach was to simplify and normalise the large amount of data captured across the surveys to enable comparisons. In doing so, the results can provide a meaningful basis for local authorities and operators to gauge the potential daily noise exposure levels to which their workers may be exposed.

The surveys carried out across the 19 different recycling collection vehicles and collection systems, have determined that workers collecting glass recycling may experience excessive noise exposure at levels which the Regulations would require action to be taken. Positively, the surveys did also reveal that implementation of practical noise reduction measures can offer tangible protection to workers.

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  • Noise from Glass Further Measurements 2021.pdf

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