Monday, 6 January 2014

The toxic truth about disposable earplugs

It is not disputed that earplugs protect from the noise exposure risks of industrial processes, shooting and motorsport and that the single-use disposable earplug remains the most common type of hearing protection in use today. In fact, the familiar 3M E-A-R Classic earplug is still commonly used in workplaces despite them being commercially introduced as the first foam disposable earplugs over 40 years ago.

Single-use disposable ear plugs remain popular because they’re perceived to be inexpensive, they are easily fitted; they offer a variety of colours and fitting shapes and provide a good level of comfort and protection for most noise environments. However, the two unfortunate and negative aspects of single-use earplugs is that they are designed to be disposable, which contributes to waste production and landfill, and the hidden longer term costs is significantly more than other types of hearing protection. 

Let us consider a typical industrial workplace in the UK. The company has 200 workers within a mandatory hearing protection zone and each employee has access to disposable earplugs and works 250 days per year. Each worker wears one disposable pair of earplugs for the morning shift and a new pair after lunch. 

A 50% conformance of mandatory hearing protection will result in 50,000 pairs of earplugs being used annually and with a 100% conformance this figure rises to a staggering 100,000 pairs of used earplugs that are being sent to landfill. With 100% conformance of single use disposable earplugs this company alone will send more than half a million single non-biodegradable earplugs to landfill within a three year period; a problem that is further compounded when you also consider that most earplugs are packaged in a box or provided in additional individual plastic wrappers. 

A single company with 200 employees wearing single use earplugs will dispose of more than half a million single earplugs in landfill within a three year period. 

However, we should not be too quick to dismiss the single use earplug. It is effective in what it does and the earplug manufacturers are listening to the environmental issues that they might create. Howard Leight now provide their earplugs individually wrapped in a biodegradable paper bags instead of the usual plastic poly-bag and Moldex has developed its foam earplugs using PU (polyurethane) which has less environmental impact than traditional earplugs manufactured from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the latter of which is associated with release of toxic chemicals and health hazards following landfill and incinerator disposal. Earplug Dispensers have also been a positive leap forward in reducing packaging waste and provide a highly visible way of storing and dispensing earplugs easily, and hygienically, right into your hand, one pair at a time. 

The bottom line, however, is that the earplug itself is unlikely to be biodegradable and the actual amount of landfill created by one employee wearing two pairs a day during their employment is staggering; times this by a number of employees and the number of business within the UK and the financial cost increases and the environmental impact becomes apparent. Fortunately there is a solution that reduces waste, saves money and retains the required level of protection.

Insta-Mold is a new concept in custom made hearing protection. Insta-Mold meets all UK and European safety requirements but the direct ‘instant’ fit avoids the higher costs of comparably lab-moulded custom hearing protection products and provides a low cost solution for business with minimal waste. 

Let us re-visit our example company of 200 employees and fit them all with Insta-Mold earplugs at a total cost of £14,000 (based upon individual Insta-Mold product retail price of £69.99 inc. VAT). This is a significant upfront investment, but when you consider that the cost of providing the disposable earplugs (at just 11p per pair) for these 200 employees over the three year lifetime of Insta-Mold is £33,588 then the company achieves a cost saving of almost £20,000.

However further savings can be made. Insta-Mold has the additional benefit that these custom earplugs can be made ‘instantly’ and in-house by training individuals within your company. Suddenly, individual lab-moulded costs are avoided, your hearing protection programme become simple to manage and the costs are significantly reduced. In-house manufactured Insta-Mold can be made for less than £16 per employee which represents a cost saving over the same three year period of over £30,000 when compared against typical single use disposable earplugs. 

A single company with 200 employees wearing single use earplugs could save almost £20,000 in three years by switching to Insta-Mold custom hearing protection and could save over £30,000 in three years by self-manufacturing Insta-Mold in-house.  

But is Insta-Mold suitable? Insta-Mold was first developed in the US in 1971, has been widely used in the American markets for over 40 years and achieves full CE certification and safety requirements for use within the UK and European markets. Insta-Mold custom hearing protection offers businesses a solution that provides a comfortable individualised fit, a range of colours and stylish design.  Insta-Mold has a tested single number rating (SNR) of between 21dB and 29dB and is made using hypo-allergenic medical grade silicones finished with a lacquer coating that provides a hygienic gloss finish. Each pair can be provided with acoustic filters and leash options, metal tracer options for the food and drinks industry, and are supplied with full fitting instructions and a storage pouch. 

Although the single use disposable earplug is unlikely to disappear from UK workplaces, Insta-Mold offers a high quality, custom fitted CE certified hearing protection alternative that can achieve considerable cost savings for businesses and eliminate landfill waste. Insta-Mold is the ultimate personal, environmental and financial hearing protection solution for your workplace.

The UK and Ireland distributer of Insta-Mold is Soundguard Acoustics Ltd and is run by Rob Shaddick, MSc, MIOA, a former NHS Audiologist and now Acoustic Consultant. He has been involved with the Insta-Mold product since 2003 and may be contacted at info@soundguard.co.uk or 0845 653 0233. For more information about Insta-Mold products then visit the website at www.soundguard.co.uk where further downloadable information is available. For European distribution then companies should contact 2pluxx GmbH at www.2pluxx.ch

Friday, 3 January 2014

How quickly can I get Approved Doc E Sound Testing Results?

Where possible, Soundguard Acoustics will provide preliminary test results before we leave the site. We will follow this up with a fully documented and signed report with the ANC online access to your test certificates which will be emailed to you normally within 24 hours of your test. This can then be submitted to your BCO, we can submit the report directly to Building Control if you prefer. Printed copies are available if required.

Monday, 30 December 2013



What is Insta-Mold®? Insta-Mold is a CE certified ‘direct moulded’ custom hearing protection product. The floating, two-part, medical grade instant silicone is available in 12 colour combinations, is provided with a hygienic gloss coat finish and is supplied with a storage pouch and client care instructions. Custom made hearing protection, using Insta-Mold, can be made within hours and at a fraction of the cost of lab-moulded products when made in-house.

Despite the simplicity Insta-Mold still meets all CE safety standards for industrial protection within the EU. The product can be varied with filters to provide the correct level of hearing protection for the noise environment and can also be supplied with a snag-free breakaway safety leash for industrial applications. Metal tracer balls and tracer leashes are also available for the food and drinks industry. Soundguard Acoustics is the UK distributer for Insta-Mold products and these can be supplied fully finished or we can work with your in-house team and train individuals in your company to make the product yourselves enabling you to supply CE certified custom hearing protection without the lab-moulded price.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Will ADE Sound Testing disrupt work on site?

During Approved Document E Sound Testing, high levels of noise are generated but in order to make accurate test measurements, relatively quiet conditions are needed. Anyone working within the testing area will have to leave temporarily and any noisy works in the vicinity of the test areas including external site activity or ground works will need to be halted. Access is required for all the rooms being tested. Prior to testing, suitable couplings of test rooms, will be identified to enable a schedule of testing which may assist in controlling noise from other parts of the dvelopment to achieve the best possible testing environment.

How long will testing take?

The time taken for testing varies with site conditions, but generally a set of tests on houses takes about one to two hours and a set of tests on flats between two to three hours. During the test Soundguard Acoustics will require free uninterrupted access to the rooms in all test areas.

Can I observe the sound test?

Soundguard Acoustics will happily give you a brief overview of the test and demonstrate what we do, however, during the formal tests there are stringent rules restricting the number of personnel within the test areas so you will need to leave the engineer to it.

Should I inform my neighbours of the testing?

Noise levels are very high and if the building is attached in any way to occupied properties then it would be advisable to inform the residents as they are likely to hear the test. In some builds access to their property may be required. We recommend you check this with your BCO and request access to the neighbouring properties accordingly. Contact Soundguard Acoustics HERE for further advice regarding your Approved Doc E Sound Testing.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Approved Doc E - What do the numbers mean?

A sound insulation test of a separating partition will be considered as a pass if the airborne sound insulation is equal to or greater than the DnT,w + Ctr value required for the appropriate dwelling and if the impact sound insulation is equal to or less than the L’nT,w value for the appropriate dwelling. The performance criteria are different for new builds and conversions and also differences may occur due to the use of the dwelling type. 
   
DnT,w is an in-situ measured performance parameter which demonstrates the level of resistance to sound transmission between two adjacent spaces. The measurement will include both direct sound transmission and flanking sound transmission of the construction. Flanking transmission is the effect of sound travelling through the building and may be particularly evident where beams and joists bridge a common partition or along poorly isolated lightweight wall constructions. The DnT,w of a separating wall or floor will typically be of the order 5 to 7 dB lower than the manufacturers specified Rw (single figure quantity of sound insulation) for the single element, due principally to the contribution from flanking sound transmission around the element when it is built on site.

Ctr is the spectrum adaption term. It is a correction attributed to the sound insulation quantity to account for urban traffic noise.

L’nT,w is an in-situ measured performance parameter which demonstrates the level of resistance to impact sound transmission between floors. The impact measurement includes both direct sound transmission and flanking sound transmission.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Soundguard Acoustics or by downloading our FREE developers guide to Approved Doc E sound insulation testing

Monday, 18 November 2013

Customer Testimonials for Sound Testing

'Soundguard Acoustics provided a thorough & professional service & achieved a successful outcome for my building refurbishment project. I would definitely recommend them to anyone seeking expertise in this area' D. Widden, Taunton, Somerset

'We found Soundguard Acoustics competent, prompt & professional to work with. We will certainly be working with them again on future projects & would definitely recommend them to fellow professionals' L. Bullivant, BULLCO Ltd, Devon

'Soundguard Acoustics offered clear professional advice on our new product development work with Robust Detail Ltd. They responded quickly and we are very happy with the service received. We would definitely recommend them'M. Panes, Superglass

'Soundguard Acoustics provided a friendly service carried out in a prompt & professional manner' K. Thomas,Weston Super Mare

'We have always had a good service from Soundguard Acoustics. Friendly, reliable & reasonably priced' J. Pearce,DevonBuild.co.uk

Friday, 15 November 2013

Approved Doc E Sound Testing - What's involved?

Airborne sound insulation test (walls & floors):  A controlled noise is generated by an amplifier and loudspeaker across a broad range of frequencies. The generated noise is very loud and can be in excess of 100dB. Initial measurements are taken using a Sound Level Meter within the ‘source room’ followed by further measurements in the ‘receiver room’ on the other side of the wall or floor under investigation. The source room speaker position is then changed and the measurements repeated either side of the partition under test.

Background noise measurements are made using a sound level meter in the receiving room and are used to apply appropriate corrections for external sound such as traffic noise. Similarly the reverberation time (the time taken for sound to decay by 60dB) is measured within the receiving room using the sound source and a sound level meter to determine the corrections that must be applied to account for the characteristics and absorptiveness of the room.

The difference in the two airborne noise levels (for walls and floors), corrected for background and reverberation characteristics determines the airborne sound insulation performance of the wall, or floor. A greater airborne noise difference between the source room and the receiver room determines a higher airborne sound insulation performance.

Impact sound transmission test (floors only):  This test is different, a calibrated ‘tapping machine’ which comprises of five 'hammers' driven up and down by a cam and electric motor is used to "tap" the floor surface by applying a known force on the floor structure. The machine is placed in several pre-determined positions. The resulting noise is measured in the dwelling below, using a sound level meter.

Background noise measurements are made using a sound level meter in the receiving room and are used to apply appropriate corrections for external sound such as traffic noise. Similarly the reverberation time (the time taken for sound to decay by 60dB) is measured within the receiving room using the sound source and a sound level meter to determine the corrections that must be applied to account for the characteristics and absorptiveness of the room.

The measured noise levels in the receiving room (for impact floors tests), corrected for background and reverberation characteristics determines the impact sound insulation performance of the floor. For the impact noise the lower the measured level, the better the performance as less sound is being transmitted into the dwelling below.

Find out more about Sound Testing or contact Soundguard Acoustics

Sound Test DEVON | Sound Test CORNWALL | Sound Test SOMERSET | Sound Test DORSET | Sound Test SOUTH WEST | Sound Test UK

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Where do I find an Approved Doc E Sound Testing company?

Approved Document E states that the sound insulation testing body should be either a member of the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) and have joined their PCT registration scheme or be registered testers with the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

Choosing an accredited company under these schemes gives you the peace of mind that your reports will be accepted by all local authorities, building control and national guarantee companies.

By using an ANC member registered under the PCT registration scheme, such as Soundguard Acoustics Ltd, then you will receive a full report including instruction for your Building Control Officer for accessing the secure online testing certificates for your build. Our company, Soundguard Acoustics, will also liaise with and release the report directly to your BCO if required to ensure that they are satisfied with the test selection.

What if I use an unregistered company?

Don’t! The quality and validity of the testing and results may be questionable and may not be accepted by the necessary approval bodies. It is likely that your BCO will ask for further or repeated testing by an accredited test company to validate the results. This will result in delay for your project and further payment to the accredited test company.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

How many Approved Doc E sound tests do I need within my development?


One set of tests needs to be undertaken for every ten flats or houses, provided the construction system is the same. A set means that the test should include two locations where the party element (wall or floor) is tested.

This is equivalent to two individual tests when assessing the performance of a wall (airborne performance only) and four individual tests when assessing a floor (two airborne and two impact tests).  All tests must be undertaken between habitable spaces (e.g. bedrooms, living rooms) and not to or from common spaces such as stairwells and corridors.
Approved Document E 2003 states that a minimum of 10% of all party walls and floors is sound tested for every construction group or sub-group. This means that where variations in the construction may occur then further testing may be required.

Houses: a set of tests would usually comprise of two airborne sound insulation tests of a pair of separating walls

Flats: a set of tests would usually comprise of two airborne sound insulation tests on separating walls; two airborne sound insulation tests of separating floors and two impact sound transmission tests of separating floors

Rooms for Residential Purposes:
(student residences, hotel rooms & care homes) a set of tests would usually comprise of one airborne sound insulation test of a separating wall; one airborne sound insulation test of a separating floor and one impact sound transmission test of a separating floor

Contact Soundguard Acoustics today for your advice or quotation for your testing requirements EMAIL

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Acoustics & floor insulation design

Sound insulation of floors between flats are a common concern for developers. With a multitude of products on offer within the market place understanding the effects of each material upon the impact insulation and airborne insulation can catch out the unwary developer. This can lead to expensive retro-fit products following a set of sound testing failures or simply the purchase of materials that may absolutely no difference! The concept of floor design does need to include the effects of other flanking pathways, especially where light-weight walls, service penetrations, downlighters, surface finishes and reduced ceiling heights has to be considered. Soundguard Acoustics can work with developers from preliminary ideas to final finish ensuring that your property will achieve the sound insulation requirements of Approved Document E whilst not making any expensive mistakes.

Approved Doc E Sound Testing


Approved Document E – ‘Resistance to the passage of sound’ came into force on July 1st 2003 and provides minimum sound insulation Building Regulation requirement for newly built and converted residential dwellings as well as the Code for Sustainable Homes. Properties include houses, flats, student residences, care homes, hotels and schools.
Approved Document E of the Building Regulations is a government-issued document providing guidance for architects, developers, building control bodies, building services engineers, and others involved in the design and conversion of buildings for residential purpose. The document explains the sound testing requirement and provides advice and details about building procedures and materials that affect test results.
Devon based, Soundguard Acoustics Ltd is approved under the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC) registration scheme for carrying out sound insulation testing (Registration number: 194-01) and will carry out sound tests across the South West and the UK.
The ANC scheme is supported by Approved Document E and ensures that sound insulation tests are carried out by suitably qualified and experienced staff, in accordance with the appropriate standards.
The scheme ensures that sound tests are properly traceable, audited and that you receive a fully documented report and certificate which will be easily recognised for approval by your local Building Control department.
If you require further advice with your project or end of build sound testing then please contact us.

Ssshhh – Soundguard New Website Launch


Soundguard Acoustics Ltd was launched in 2008. Since this time our range of services has increased and our new website, launched in October 2013, reflects these changes. Our experience within new areas such as wind turbine assessment and festival management now deserve their own pages and the useful addition of free downloads and a wide portfolio provides you with a greater insight into our acoustic services. Like many modern and forward thinking businesses, Soundguard Acoustics Ltd has embraced the social media generation, and you can now keep up to date with us on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. www.soundguard.co.uk

Monday, 22 July 2013

Agents Required - For your 'ears' only



 Become an Insta-Mold Secret Agent: For your 'ears' only

It has long been considered that Custom Hearing Protection attracts a customised price tag! Insta-Mold is changing this fact and for the first time in the UK and Ireland direct moulded custom hearing protection that meet CE can be supplied within hours and at a fraction of the cost of lab-moulded products.

The versatility of Insta-Mold determines that the NHS can supply ‘swim-plugs’ or custom hearing protection in as little as 2 hours. The industrial sector can manage their own in-house custom hearing protection programmes and fit all their employees at a fraction of the price and custom hearing protection can be made on site at private weekend shooting events, festivals or motorcycle meetings.

Insta-Mold products can be manufactured and supplied by anyone who has appropriate ear impression experience or qualification. The medical grade, two-part, hypo-allergenic, ‘Insta-Mold’ silicone is direct moulded into the ear to form a CE certified custom hearing protection product that is lacquer coated and fitted with optional acoustic filters. With a Single Number Rating (SNR) of between 20dB and 29dB and with a life expectancy of up to four years then they are well suited for most applications.  Insta-Mold products include ‘snag-free’ safety leashes and fully traceable options for the food and drinks industry, and if you are supplying to the water-sport market then they float too! The wide colour range and swirl effects finally provide a product that not only meets the comfort needs of the wearer but makes a real statement too.

Audiologists, Hearing Aid Dispensers, Occupational Nurses, Hearing Therapists and any individual that has appropriate ear-impression training can become an Insta-Mold Agent and manufacture direct moulded hearing protection devices within hours and without the significant set up facilities of an ear-mould lab. This is of particular benefit to the NHS in the application of swimmers earplugs or industrial contracts which can be managed in-house and at a fraction of the cost of lab-moulded products. The product also provides a custom moulded option with excellent profit margins for the private hearing sector markets.

For more details, pricing and how to become an Insta-Mold agent then please contact 0845 653 0233 or visit the website at www.InstaMold.co.uk or www.soundguard.co.uk

Thursday, 24 January 2013

What is Sound Insulation Testing?

Sound insulation testing is the assessment of the sound insulation performance of party walls and party floors between different dwellings. Testing is required once the property is nearing final completion and determines if the minimum Building Regulation standard for sound insulation has been met.

Developers are responsible for arranging testing to demonstrate compliance to Building Control that the Approved Doc E sound insulation regulations have been met. The procedure is more commonly referred to as pre-completion testing (PCT) or Approved Document E (ADE) sound testing.

What is Approved Doc E?

Approved Document E – ‘Resistance to the passage of sound’ came into force on July 1st 2003 and provides minimum sound insulation Building Regulation requirement for newly built and converted residential dwellings as well as the Code for Sustainable Homes. Properties include houses, flats, student residences, care homes, hotels and schools.

Approved Document E of the Building Regulations is a government-issued document providing guidance for architects, developers, building control bodies, building services engineers, and others involved in the design and conversion of buildings for residential purpose. The document explains the testing requirement and provides advice and details about building procedures and materials that affect test results


What is the benefit of a Sound Test?

In buildings sound can be defined as 'airborne sound' (i.e. sound generated and transferred directly in the air by talking or home entertainment systems) or 'impact sound' (i.e. sound generated by the impact of an object striking the floor and transmitted through it, such as footfall noise).

The objective of Approved Document E is to raise sound resistance standards for both airborne and impact noise between dwellings to provide reasonable living conditions and improve the standards of acoustic insulation in attached properties

Sound insulation testing may also be required in non-residential buildings such as schools, hospitals and workplaces to ensure that noise sensitive areas such as classrooms, wards and meeting rooms are suitably insulated from noisier areas


Do I need a sound test?

All new and converted dwelling houses and flats for residential purpose require sound testing to Approved Document E standard. This also includes a room or suite of rooms which is not a dwelling house or a flat but which is used by one or more persons to live and sleep. For example, rooms in hostels, hotels, boarding houses, halls of residence, and residential homes.

Detached properties do not require sound testing and new constructions that have been built and appropriately registered with the Robust Details scheme do not need to be sound tested. Historic building conversions may not need to be sound tested but often a ‘test and declare’ certificate for sound insulation performance is requested by the Building Control Officer (BCO).

Is my build ready for a Sound Test?



Sound insulation tests are undertaken when the development is “pre-completed”. This means that the test rooms should be at a stage where just final finishing, such as painting and carpets are required. 

Soundguard Acoustics has provided a site checklist below to assist you with this. By ensuring that you meet the requirements of the checklist then the build can be deemed to be at a stage ready for soundinsulation testing. Where items are not in place this will negatively affect the sound insulation performance of the build.
  

  • Windows should be fully installed, glazed & closable
  • Trickle vents and other ventilation systems should be fitted
  • Internal & external doors must be hung, glazed & closable 
  • All wall, floors & ceiling constructions must be completed
  • Skirting boards should all be fitted & cornice where fitted
  • Electrical sockets, TV Aerial sockets & light switches should be fitted
  • Rooms must be clear of building materials, tools & unfurnished
  • No cosmetic floor coverings should be fitted (i.e. laminate, carpet, vinyl, ceramics)
  • No trades should be working in the dwellings during the tests
  • Access to rooms either side of the separating structure is essential
  • Non-tester access to the rooms is prohibited during testing
  • No noisy operations (drilling, cutting or groundwork) to occur nearby during testing
  • Provision of 240v 50Hz mains power is required within the dwellings

How many sound tests do I need?



One set of sound tests needs to be undertaken for every ten flats or houses, provided the construction system is the same. A set means that the test should include two locations where the party element (wall or floor) is tested.

This is equivalent to two individual sound tests when assessing the performance of a wall (airborne performance only) and four individual tests when assessing a floor (two airborne and two impact tests).  All tests must be undertaken between habitable spaces (e.g. bedrooms, living rooms) and not to or from common spaces such as stairwells and corridors.

Approved Document E 2003 states that a minimum of 10% of all party walls and floors is sound tested for every construction group or sub-group. This means that where variations in the construction may occur then further testing may be required.

  • Houses: a set of tests would usually comprise of two airborne sound insulation tests of a pair of separating walls
  • Flats:a set of tests would usually comprise of two airborne sound insulation tests on separating walls; two airborne sound insulation tests of separating floors and two impact sound transmission tests of separating floors 
  • Rooms for Residential Purposes: (student residences, hotel rooms & care homes) a set of tests would usually comprise of one airborne sound insulation test of a separating wall; one airborne sound insulation test of a separating floor and one impact sound transmission test of a separating floor