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Friday, 02 September 2016


I hear your pain, Mike. I mean it. I live in Lyons CO where we had a 1000 year flood three years ago, and I was lucky to live up a small hill above where the two rivers in town met, taking out the low-lying neighborhood in front of my house. It's been three years of back up beeps and dust from heavy vehicles tarring out of the dirt roads. What fun!

Oh, God, the barefooted menace...you have opened another gate to Hell by bringing that up...

P.S. This is what it looked like in Sept. 2013. http://kennethwajda.com/kennethwajdalyonsflooddocumentary.htm

As I write this, I hear backup warnings!

[Good job, and nice to see your face, Kenneth. --Mike]

Sorry you feel that way about the noise, but from a health and safety professional's background, sometimes they aren't loud enough, to fatal outcomes. Remember that these machines need to compensate for other work noise onsite, be they construction related or otherwise (e.g. in industrial settings).

I'd hate for you to explain to a family member that someone was hurt/killed because you thought the beep was annoying so you had it turned off.

[The problem is not the warning, the problem is the implementation. The beep is of a frequency that is poorly localized--that is, it's hard to tell where it's coming from--and way too loud, in that it can commonly be heard more than a mile away, which isn't warning anyone of anything. It's not only the wrong frequency, but its steady repetition leads to "cry wolf" syndrome, by which repeated noises get "tuned out" by those in the vicinity. A much more effective warning would be provided by a much lower-pitched synthetic male voice, with frequency variation, alternating different messages at slightly irregularized intervals.

That said, there are better technologies available anyway, since it's been proven that audible warnings don't even serve to warn various populations such as children or the deaf. Back-up cameras are more effective safety devices for construction equipment with professional operators, and on busy construction sites it's much more effective to temporarily deploy a worker to act as a spotter. The back-up beeper is an outdated mechanism that is tolerated simply because it's entrenched. The cost in noise pollution, disturbance of the peace, disruption of other workers, and public nuisance is unacceptably high for the good it does.

And it's not even very effective--it doesn't prevent all back-over deaths. --Mike]

We get the repulsively cheerful and patronising, "This vehicle is reversing" recorded message on buses and other large vehicles, in England.

In our construction trade, that sort of boom lift is known as a cherry picker, while the type of access platform that rises vertically on a lazy tong arrangement is a magic carpet.

Common foam earplugs come in densities up to about -33 db which is a lot. Active noise cancellation headphones (over the ear) in combination with music can do better. They actually make some for drummers that are rated even higher.
But if you are bothered by noise, the foam ones are cheap and effective.

Apparently, my partner is tortured by a similar noise pattern. We had the piano tuner at the house yesterday for 2.5 hours and the oft-repeated ding-ding-ding of the same notes drove her to jump on her bicycle and leave the house for an hour.

Dept. of Modern Age Scourges: OSHA regs mandate 90db but okay to be "above" surrounding level. Your steeple workers could easily have achieved 40db without incurring the inspectors wrath and your sanity. Here's more:

Well, Mike, keep this in mind. One Renaissance-era pope (and patron of Michelangelo) had all the birds in the Vatican gardens killed because their early-morning songs disturbed his sleep. Wonder how long that worked?

Ditto, get some ear plugs from the local gun shop Mike!

And you wanted to move into the peace and serenity of the country....

Add another to the horrible sounds of summer list. I feel the same way about this inhumane noise.

One of my clients from the past was the Consruction Safety Association.
Every year they had their annual meeting and the grim part was a review of workplace deaths.
Much effort was made to review them, and I suspect that much of the effort was in vain. The toll of workers killed in the job for ignoring simple safety rules.
Nuff said.

I can't believe that you would besmirch the utility and good intentions of the common cherry picker to such a foul degree! As one who rented these chariots of construction for years, the sounds made are a symphony of productivity and bon homme. They are like a well rehearsed church choir singing 'A Mighty Fortress'. And if you're still grumpy about them, suggest to the site foreman to use the lifts with 'pick a tune' feature. These are more modern pickers with the ability to change the sounds made, and feature selections from Tony Bennett, Tiny Tim, and Pee Wee Hermann. Have a great and music filled weekend!

Ah yes. The safety beeper. Useless piece of s**t as far as I am concerned. It beeps all the time so we no longer pay attention to it and now filter it out and ignore it. In this day and age we have way to much safety " stuff " and no longer use our common sense. Think people, think!!! Good grief. !!!!

In Canada we call them cherry pickers as well.

I am sure you have a laptop or some such device that makes you portable as far as work is concerned. I work the morning at home and then grab my laptop and find somewhere else to work in the afternoon. Usually a coffee shop but could include libraries, parks or a friends patio. It's actually quite amusing, my clients will call and ask which "coffee" office I am in. They will come down and meet me, have a coffee, discuss business, all very civilized. If no customers to chat with I put on some headphones, listen to soft music, and crank out tons of work.

I'm sure you could find a way to work away from the construction noise, if you really wanted to.

Where I live we got hit hard from Hurricane Hermine during the night. I have a tree on my house and multiple trees down on the property. My neighbors have been hit just as bad and worst. No power, but water is on. The tree guy just finished across the street and will be returning in an hour with a cherry picker for my house. I think that is what they used for the steeple.

Sorry to the noise, and I am dealing with the sounds of a neighbor's generator and leaf blowers! Loud!

[Very sorry to hear that! --Mike]

I really enjoyed reading that, sorry as I am for your ordeal.

I work in an intermodal container yard that transfers shipping containers from trains to trucks and vice versa. We have five large mobile cranes, two empty container handlers, and various other equipment that goes "beep". The cranes have a variety of safety systems to go along with the beep-beep. They have cameras, sonar, and "curb-feelers". Still, with them at the trains, there are plenty of noises.

Being a photographer, I also have a panaramic photograph of the site taken from the top of a crane:

In Wales we get "This vehicle is reversing", followed by the Welsh "Mae'r cerbyd hwn yn mynd yn ol". Very annoying. I can't think there's anyone in Cardiff for whom the English would not suffice.

I can't say for certain, but I have heard rumors to the effect that the wires to a back up beeper are easily severed with wire cutters. To the detriment of no one and the great celebration of some...

If you lived in SoCal you wouldn't hear the back-up-beepers because of their noise being drowned-out by leaf blowers 8-) Also I live two blocks from a busy fire station.

BTW have you tried noise cancelling bluetooth headphones. Listen to music and avoid the noise.

BTW2 have you ever been in an anechoic chamber? The complete lack-of-noise is an interesting experience.

I spent yesterday filming a waste management facility with many trucks, forklifts and other equipment in tight spaces. Without those beepers I would have been run over at least 3 times. Drivers presume you will get out of their way, not the other way around. Not so easy when you are focusing on getting the perfect shot of something else and block out the environment.
The beepers exist for a very good reason no matter how annoying they are in most ordinary situations.

For many uses: quality earplugs.
I recommend Mack's Ultra.
Cheap, multi-use, and really helps.

I would be more than happy to take all the back up beepers from New York if you would take all the ubiquitous ear splitting %#^*€ leaf blowers from California.


Regarding all your points regarding the implementation of the backup noise, I don't disagree. Although, I'd plead that there are complexities/subtleties/specifics to your generalizations (e.g. a disruption to other workers is a good thing so they are aware, *especially* when it is hard to tell where it's coming from, with blind corners and such [What I meant was things like disrupting workers down the street in an office behind a window. --MJ] ). However, the legacy methods that are out there have been grandfathered and unless regulated "obsolete" will not be taken out of service nor upgraded to newer technologies (due to costs, although that's another issue entirely).

Furthermore, not being effective is not an excuse not to have it. The cost being "unacceptably high" comment would be hard to justify if it *does* save a life, no? Or as I mentioned, if it hadn't been activated for the noise "cost" how would that be explained to a labour inspector after an accident?

One more point: even with more effective technologies, nothing is foolproof - there is always a greater fool. Backup cameras, flashing lights, spotters - all have been found lacking in some way and all situations vary in their work requirements. And so we have the belt and suspenders approach.

Even you mention that it could be "tuned out" - perhaps that should be your approach since you're not actually on the job site?

I'm hearing more backup 'rasps' these days. It's still loud and obnoxious, but it's a mix of frequencies, with the center being a good bit lower than the regular beeps, so it's more annoying than painful. It also doesn't seem to carry as far.

Well, I gotta say, i'm only sort of, maybe, kind of a little tiny bit sorry for your pain. Ya gotta remember, it's all about ME. If it wasn't for your discomfort, I would never have been able to read and enjoy this post.

My "favorite" back-up beeper is the one on the Toyota Prius. Since the Prius rarely runs the gasoline engine while backing I suppose they thought it need to make noise. So they added a back-up beeper.

That would have made sense if they had remembered that it needed to put it outside the car. But no, they put it inside the car and it cannot be heard outside the car. It irritates the occupants and lulls them into a false sense of security that pedestrians behind them might be warned.

The Prius has a number of these bone-headed engineering errors. I guess the engineers take public transportation to work. And every time I hear that beeper I am reminded how stupid they are, as well as being irritated by the noise.

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