International Standards for Noise Monitoring: Shipowners and Operators’ Responsibility

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International standards for noise monitoring

International Standards for Noise Monitoring play are crucial to ensure safety and sustainability in the maritime industry.

They provide a consistent and reliable method for measuring, assessing, and controlling noise levels to minimize their impact on the environment and crew. Adherence to these standards with the guidance of classification societies and technology is crucial for promoting sustainable practices in the maritime industry and preserving our oceans.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has set multiple standards for the maritime industry, including the measurement of noise and vibration on board vessels and underwater acoustics. Lloyd’s Register and Bureau Veritas are leading classification societies that provide certification and inspection services to assist shipowners and operators in complying with the relevant standards.

Navigating Noise Regulations: Ensuring Safety and Sustainability in the Maritime Industry

Ensuring safety and sustainability in the maritime industry is crucial.

The International Standards for Noise Monitoring play a significant role in achieving this goal. Regulators have approached the topic from two different perspectives:

  • The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) focus on occupational noise exposure and its adverse effects on human health.
  • IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MPEC) and The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) focus on underwater acoustic noise. As offshore activities continue to increase and concerns about the impact of noise on marine life grow, it is essential to establish international standards for noise monitoring.

The ISO standards are designed to regulate and control noise levels to minimize their impact on the environment and crew. They provide a consistent and reliable method for measuring, assessing, and controlling noise levels.

By complying with these standards, shipowners can ensure that their activities do not pose any risks to marine life and the surrounding environment. Overall, adherence to the International Standards for Noise Monitoring with the guidance of the classification societies and the help of technology is crucial for promoting sustainable practices in the maritime industry and preserving our oceans.

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The Main ISO Standards

Quantifying noise pollution is a critical step toward reducing it. Regulators have adopted, among others, two measurements to quantify anthropogenic noise pollution, The sound exposure level (SEL) and the sound pressure level (SPL). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) under the general standard 17.140.30 (Noise emitted by means of transport) has set multiple standards on the exact methodology and instruments approved by IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) you need to measure noise based on the context and pave the way towards a less harmful noise. Below are a few ISO standards in force for the maritime industry:

ISO 2923:1996: Measurement of noise on board vessels.

This standard covers the measurement and assessment of noise levels on board ships, including identifying noise sources, the height of noise levels, and evaluating the risk to crew members. It also guides noise-reducing measures, such as noise barriers, vibration isolation, and sound-absorbing materials.

ISO 20283:2016: Measurement of vibration on ships

Provides guidelines regarding vibration in its various parts and analyzes the ways to measure the vibration of different onboard equipment, structural vibration, vibration on the ship’s propulsion machinery, and in different areas onboard assessing their habitability.

ISO 17208-1:2016: Underwater acoustics

Which sets out methods for measuring underwater sound from ships, the measurement of sound radiated from a ship’s hull, machinery, propeller, and sound transmitted through the water. It also specifies the instrumentation and procedures for making measurements, including the measurement of sound pressure levels and frequency spectra.

ISO 2922:2020: Measurement of airborne sound emitted by vessels on inland waterways and harbors

Sets the conditions for obtaining comparable measurements for sound emitted by vessels. It applies to all vessels except recreational crafts under different rules and with a reference distance of 25m

importance of ISO standards

The Role of Classification Societies

Lloyd’s Register and Bureau Veritas are two of the leading classification societies that play a critical role in ensuring compliance with international standards for noise monitoring in the maritime industry.

These classification societies provide certification and inspection services to assist shipowners and operators in complying with the relevant standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Lloyd’s Register offers various services to help shipowners and operators manage their environmental and safety performance. These services include noise measurement and monitoring, acoustic consultancy, and noise modeling. Additionally, Lloyd’s Register provides certification services for environmental management systems, which can help shipowners and operators meet their regulatory and operational requirements.

Similarly, Bureau Veritas offers a wide range of services related to noise monitoring, including noise mapping, prediction, and measurement. Bureau Veritas also provides certification services for environmental and occupational health and safety management systems, which can assist shipowners and operators in complying with the relevant international standards and regulations

Improving the health of people and the planet by mitigating noise pollution in the maritime industry

Noise Within the Maritime Sector

Noise and vibration are critical factors in a maritime ecosystem. According to the International Chamber of Shipping, shipping transports around 90% of global trade and is responsible for the movement of approximately 11 billion tons of goods annually.

Noise pollution can be generated from activities other than ship operations in the maritime industry, including construction, maintenance, and seismic surveys for oil and gas exploration. Excessive noise can pose severe health and safety risks onboard personnel. Occupational exposure to high noise levels can cause hearing loss, one of the most common work-related illnesses worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 466 million people worldwide suffer from hearing loss, and occupational noise exposure significantly contributes to this. In addition to hearing loss, excessive noise can cause other health problems, such as tinnitus and high blood pressure. Crew Members on vessels are among the ones affected.

Therefore, setting international standards for noise monitoring in the maritime industry, such as those set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of crew members, minimize the impact on the marine environment, and comply with regulatory requirements.

Danger of underwater noise for marine biodiversity

The Silent Threat: How Excessive Noise Affects Marine Life and Ecosystems

Excessive noise from shipping, and other marine activities can also significantly impact marine life and ecosystems. The main ecosystems affected by noise pollution include the ocean floor, deep-sea habitats, and coral reefs.

Studies have shown that marine animals such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises rely on sound for communication, navigation, and hunting. Excessive noise from shipping can disrupt these activities, leading to decreased reproduction rates, migration patterns, and feeding habits. For example, seismic surveys, which search for oil and gas reserves beneath the seabed, generate loud sound waves that can travel long distances underwater, potentially causing physical harm to marine mammals such as whales and dolphins.

Chronic exposure to high noise levels can also cause hearing damage and other health issues in marine animals. In addition, noise pollution can also impact the physical environment by altering sedimentation patterns, reducing the quality of habitats, and affecting the behavior of marine organisms. For example, excessive noise can interfere with the development of larval stages of marine invertebrates and fish, affecting the entire ecosystem. These impacts can have significant implications for the sustainability of the marine environment and the livelihoods of those who depend on it.

The Responsibility of Shipowners and Operators

Excessive noise levels can have detrimental effects on crew members, including hearing loss, increased blood pressure, and stress, which can lead to long-term health issues and impact their ability to work.

Shipowners must ensure that their vessels operate within acceptable noise levels to minimize occupational health and safety hazards and improve productivity. By complying with ISO Standards and regulations enforced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other local regulatory bodies, shipowners can ensure that they meet mandatory standards for maximum noise levels on ships.

Non-compliance can result in penalties, fines, and legal liabilities, making it crucial for shipowners to stay updated with the latest regulatory requirements. Complying with international standards for noise monitoring and adopting good practices can also help shipowners promote their sustainability goals and minimize their environmental impact. This, in turn, can enhance their reputation and attract customers who prioritize sustainability in their operations.

In summary, shipowners and operators must take responsibility for monitoring and controlling noise levels on board their vessels to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. Adhering to international standards for noise monitoring not only reduces occupational health and safety hazards but also improves productivity and promotes sustainability.

Technologies for Noise Monitoring on Ships

Excessive noise levels can harm crew members and marine life. To mitigate these risks, shipowners use various cutting-edge noise monitoring and control technologies.

  • Sound level meters: Used to measure sound intensity in decibels (dB) and monitor noise levels in different vessel parts to ensure they are within acceptable limits.
  • Underwater noise Emissions API: utilizes cutting-edge technology to help you estimate sound exposure level (SEL) for any vessel and journey.
  • Noise mapping software: Creates a visual representation of the noise levels on board a ship, helping to identify areas with high noise levels and take necessary actions to reduce noise.
  • Noise control systems: Include mufflers, silencers, and sound-insulating materials to minimize the amount of noise that escapes from the vessel and reduce the impact of noise on the environment and crew members.
  • Vibration sensors: Detect and measure vibrations caused by machinery and other onboard equipment that can increase noise levels and harm crew members and marine life. Shipowners can identify potential issues by monitoring vibrations and taking corrective actions to reduce noise levels.

 

The use of these cutting-edge technologies by shipowners for noise monitoring ensures compliance with international standards and helps minimize the impact of noise on ships and marine life.

Conclusion

The maritime industry should prioritize noise monitoring to ensure the safety and health of crew members, protect marine life, and prevent environmental damage. Compliance with international standards from organizations like ISO and IMO is crucial.

All stakeholders have a responsibility to minimize noise pollution and comply with regulations. Shipowners should invest in noise-reducing technologies and ensure vessels meet noise monitoring guidelines.

The industry plays a crucial role in global trade, and prioritizing safety and the environment will create a sustainable and safe industry for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Standards for Noise Monitoring

The IMO has set international standards for noise monitoring in the maritime industry to ensure that noise levels on ships are safe for human health and do not harm the marine environment.

These standards are essential because excessive noise on ships can have negative impacts on crew members, marine wildlife, and nearby communities.

Noise can cause hearing damage, sleep disturbance, and other health issues for crew members. For marine wildlife, it can cause behavioral changes, habitat displacement, and even death.

The primary ISO standards that regulate noise levels on ships are:

  • ISO 17208-1:2016 – Acoustics – Noise from shooting ranges – Part 1: Determination of muzzle blast by measuring sound pressure levels
  • ISO 17208-2:2019 – Acoustics – Noise from shooting ranges – Part 2: Estimation of noise exposure and risk of hearing damage from muzzle blast noise
  • ISO 2922:2019 – Acoustics – Measurement of airborne noise emitted by vessels – Engineering method
  • ISO 2923:2021 – Acoustics – Measurement of airborne noise emitted by vessels – Survey method
  • ISO 19664:2017 – Acoustics – Measurement of underwater sound from ships – Guidelines

Classification societies like Lloyd’s Register and Bureau Veritas play a crucial role in ensuring compliance with International Standards for Noise Monitoring in the maritime industry.

They provide certification and inspection services to ships to ensure that they comply with the IMO’s noise standards.

These societies also provide guidance and technical support to ship owners and operators to help them achieve compliance with the standards. 

Reducing noise pollution in the maritime industry is essential for the health of people and the planet.

Excessive noise on ships can have negative impacts on the health of crew members, nearby communities, and marine wildlife.

It can cause hearing damage, sleep disturbance, and other health issues for crew members.

For marine wildlife, it can cause behavioral changes, habitat displacement, and even death. Additionally, noise pollution can have negative impacts on the marine environment, including disrupting migration patterns and communication among marine animals.

Therefore, reducing noise pollution in the maritime industry is crucial for the health and well-being of both humans and the planet.

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