Standards Library

BS 4142: 2014 Industrial and Commercial Noise

BS 4142 is a core acoustic engineering standard. This standard is used to assess the effects of sound from certain activities on nearby ‘sensitive receptors’. The method allows comparison of the existing background sound levels with sound levels from a new source.

Which development types does this standard apply to?

  •  Arts, Culture and Heritage
  •  Courts
  •  Emergency Services
  •  Data Centre
  •  Defence
  •  Energy and Infrastructure
  •  Higher and Further Education
  •  Hositals and Healthcare
  •  Hotels and Resorts
  •  Leisure
  •  Manufacturing and Process
  •  Offices
  •  Residential
  •  Retail
  •  Schools and Academies
  •  Science and Research

What does this standard provide?

A method of assessment for new sources of sound – which can quickly become noise. The new sound could be from any of the following:
  • Industrial and manufacturing processes
  • New mechanical and/or electrical equipment
  • Loading and unloading of good and materials at industrial and/or commercial premises
  • Mobile plant equipment, like forklift trucks
Firstly, the BS 4142 assessment method requires measurement of the existing background sound level at a development site. The expected noise level from new equipment or activity can then be calculated at a given location. For instance, sound levels from a new development can be calculated at the nearest existing house.

If the new sound is lower than the background sound level, it will have little effect on the existing residential property. However, if the new sound level is greater than or equal to the background sound level, the more annoying that sound might be.

Corrections can also be applied if the new equipment or activity will have ‘annoying features’. These can include switching on or off, or being ‘tonal’. Tonality means that one (or more) frequency stands out among the others. For example, tonality can mean a noise has a ‘hum’, a ‘whine’ or a ‘whistle’ feature.

What are the obligations under this standard?

There are no direct obligations as a result of using BS 4142. However, the standard is used by Engineers and Environmental Health Officers to set limits for new noise sources. These limits can then be included in a planning Decision Notice as a mandatory requirement.

Who wrote and published this standard?

The full title of the current standard is ‘BS 4142: 2014+A1: 2019 Methods for rating and assessing industrial and commercial sound‘. The standard was authored by Technical Committee and published by the British Standards Institution (BSI) in 2014 and updated in 2019.

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Company number 11008703

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