Noise from outdoor machinery can cause noise disturbance and annoyance – especially when its warm and windows are more likely to be opened. Construction sites and large parks and gardens frequently use machinery that is inherently noisy. We also use noisy outdoor machines at home in the garden and on building jobs. There is regulation in place to manage noise levels from 57 types of outdoor equipment, and this is overseen by the Office for Product Safety Standards, part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Michelle from the office gives us an introduction to the outdoor noise regulations (official title Noise Emission in the Environment by Equipment for use Outdoors Regulations 2001 (as amended) ).

Regulations on noise from outdoor equipment

The outdoor noise regulations cover a range of the outdoor machinery that is deemed to be the noisiest and have the most harmful potential noise impact on people. This is equipment used in construction, grounds and landscape management, gardening and agriculture. Machinery covered by regulation ranges from concrete or mortar mixers, hydraulic hammers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers to refuse collection vehicles – a full list of equipment covered is in the directive and listed below.

The 57 types of equipment covered are split into two lists:

  • equipment subject to noise limits and noise marking – this includes lawn mowers, motor hoes, power generators, concrete breakers and picks, tower cranes and compaction machines
  • equipment subject to noise marking only – this includes chainsaws, hedge trimmers, brush cutters, hydraulic hammers, concrete or mortar mixers, mobile waste containers and water pump units.

Equipment covered by the regulation must have:

  • a standard label indicating its guaranteed sound power level
  • a technical file showing this has been measured correctly to ISO standardsa Declaration of Conformity, which is for the manufacturer or importer to declare that they have conducted the appropriate tests for the machine and that they pass or conform to the tests.

The regulation aims to control the noise produced by machinery and to reduce the impact on environmental noise levels – especially in urban areas where they are more likely to disturb people. The regulation also aims to encourage manufacturers to work towards reducing the noise levels of outdoor machinery through using advances in technology to innovate and develop quieter products.

When purchasing any equipment, please be aware of the noise label and choose quieter models. The higher the decibel level marked the louder the machine will be. The more that you demand lower noise levels in machines you use, the faster manufacturers will work to produce quieter equipment.

What do noise labels mean?

To put the noise number value in to better context, we all hear noise in very different ways and the term decibel (dB) is used to represent the level of noise that we are hearing. The label used reflects the measured sound power level (Lwa) recorded usually from a hemisphere around the machine at operation. Some simple values to give you an idea of the noise level represented by a decibel rating are:

A pin falling on the floor – around 15 dB

A conversation between two people – around 65dB

A motorcycle – around 100dB

A Jet at take off – around 140 dB

The noise nuisance caused is different to everyone depending on the level and pitch variations and our own hearing ability and perception of noise.

To find out more please go to:

If you have a specific enquiry about compliance with the regulations, please use the contact details on our enforcement services page.

Let me know your views on the regulation on noise from outdoor equipment

Please look at the list below and take a moment to give me some feedback via survey monkey, I promise I will take less than 4 minutes of your time and is only 10 questions!

Equipment covered by the Directive:


M = Noise Marking apply

L = Noise Limits apply

Gardening – home and parks

Brush Cutters M; Chainsaws, portable M; Grass Trimmers/ grass edge trimmers M; Hedge Trimmers M; Compressors <350kw L 97dB; Lawn Mowers L 94dB to 98dB (Size calculation); Lawn trimmers/ Lawn edge trimmers L 94dB to 103dB (Size calculation); Leaf Blowers M; Leaf Collectors M; High pressure flushers M; High pressure water jet machines M; Motor Hoes <3kw L 93dB to 100dB (Size calculation); Power Generators <400kw L 95dB to 98dB (Size calculation); Scarifiers M; Shredder/Chippers M

Construction Equipment

Aerial access platforms with combustion engines M; Builders Hoist with combustion engine L 93dB to 98dB (Size calculation); Building site bandsaw machine M; Building site circular saw bench M; Builders Hoist for goods transport with electric motors M; Compaction machine (non-vibrating rollers) L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Combined high pressure flushers & suction vehicles M; Compaction machines (explosion rammers only) M; Concrete Motor Mixers M; Conveying and spraying machines for concrete and mortar M; Conveyor Belts M; Construction Winches with electric motor M; Concrete Breakers and Picks, hand held L 105dB to 107dB (Size calculation); Construction Winches with combustion engine L 93dB to 96dB (Size calculation); Mobile Cranes L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Hydraulic Hammers M; Hydraulic Power Packs L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Joint Cutters M; Landfill Compactors, loader type with bucket <500kw L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Paver finishers (hc Screed) M: Paver-finishers, (others) L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Piling Equipment M; Pipe Layers M; Tower Cranes L 96dB to 98dB (Size calculation); Trenchers M; Truck Mixers M; Wheeled Dozers <500kw L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Wheeled Excavators- Loaders <500kw L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Tracked Dozers <500kw L 103dB to 106dB (Size calculation); Tracked Excavators-Loaders <500kw L 103dB to 106dB (Size calculation); Tracked Loaders <500kw L 103dB to 106dB (Size calculation)

Agriculture and other Equipment

Equipment for loading and unloading of tanks M; Excavators, hydraulic or rope operated L 93dB to 96dB (Size calculation); Glass recycling containers M; Graders <500kw L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Compaction Machines L 101dB to 109dB (Size & Type calculation); Cooling equipment on vehicles M; Dumpers <500kw L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Drill Rigs M; Mobile waste containers M; Lift trucks combustion engine L 101dB to 104dB (Size calculation); Snow removing machines M; Suction Vehicles M; Piste caterpillars M; Power generators >400kw M; Power sweepers M; Refuse collection vehicles M; Road Milling Machines M; Welding Generators L 95dB to