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Vibration > Environmental > Disturbance Mainly UK content

The most commonly used standard for environmental vibration assessment is BS.6472:1992 "Evaluation of human exposure to vibration in buildings [1 Hz to 80 Hz]." Indeed Annex 3 of PPG 24 "Planning and Noise", indicates that disturbance of residents by vibration should be assessed using this document.  Note the 1992 version of the standard has been replaced with the 2008 version.

Most often it is used to assess railway vibration.  The number of instances where an industrial operation causes vibration disturbance is very low; possible examples would be drop forges, weaving operations or printing presses if sited close to residential properties.

BS.6472 requires that the estimated vibration dose value be determined separately for the 16 hour daytime and 8 hour nighttime periods. The vibration dose value (VDV) or estimated vibration dose value (eVDV) is a form of energy averaged vibration level, similar to (but not the same as) Leq.  The vibration dose value has a time-dependency which means that a two-fold decrease in vibration magnitude is equivalent to a 16-fold decrease in the duration of the vibration, i.e. the measured VDV, or estimated eVDV, is much more sensitive to changes in vibration level, than changes in vibration duration, whereas for Leq, is either the sound energy or the duration is doubled, then the Leq increases by 3 dB.

It should be noted that in the UK, vibration is considered in the same manner as noise as regards nuisance; so that everything in the statutory nuisance section applies to vibration.

Table 1 of the British Standard has 3 "action levels":-

Vibration dose values [m/s1.75] above which various degrees of adverse comment may be expected in residential buildings


Low probability of 
adverse comment

Adverse comment

Adverse comment

Day [16hr]

0.2 to 0.4

0.4 to 0.8

0.8 to 1.6

Night [8hr]

0.1 to 0.2

0.2 to 0.4

0.4 to 0.8

For example, for VDVs somewhere between 0.4 and 0.8 m/s1.75 adverse comment regarding daytime vibration levels becomes possible. No guidance is offered in the British Standard regarding the importance of vibration in determining planning applications.

In planning terms, PPG24 indicates that BS.6472 should be used to assess vibration, but there is no guidance as to what is an acceptable level of disturbance; for example, should planning authorities aim for "no", "low" or "adverse comment possible"?  Sometimes, it is considered that the objective should be to avoid vibration levels where adverse comment would be possible, i.e. ensure vibration eVDV's are less than 0.4 to 0.8 m/s1.75 by day and less than 0.2 to 0.4 m/s1.75 by night.

Instrumentation for measuring this type of vibration can be found here, but be warned that vibration monitoring is a skilled process and should not be undertaken lightly.

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