HTM 08-01: What Does The Law Say About Acoustics In The Healthcare Sector?

Healthcare Acoustics | Hospital Noise | Prism Acoustics

The medical world is constantly moving. Whether it’s a hospital, a GP surgery or a clinic, there are always people on the go giving and receiving medical treatment.

The result of all this activity is a noisy industry.

To improve the way that sound is managed in the healthcare sector, the UK government released the HTM 08-01 design guide in 2013.

About HTM 08-01

About HTM 08-01 | Acoustics in Hospitals

Research into excessive noise levels found that it can have serious implications on patient recovery time. It affects heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rates.

The noise around hospitals is constant. While most have a no-sirens on site policy, there is still a lot of noise generated by traffic from emergency vehicles, staff coming and going and visitors arriving throughout the day and into the night.

There is also the risk of noise from air ambulances which can occur at any time.

To protect patients, visitors and staff from this ongoing noise, HTM 08-01 was published.

The HTM 08-01 Design guide was produced as part of an initiative to improve the acoustic conditions in medical care facilities and associated spaces.

HTM 08-01 covers the best practices for the design, installation and operation of all healthcare buildings.

Included into this are facilities where medical work will take place, such as:

  • Laboratories
  • Operating Theatres
  • Consultancy Rooms
  • Waiting Areas
  • Wards

Introducing the HTM 08-01 design guide meant that the healthcare sector could focus on the development of medical spaces on the improvement of “patient privacy, dignity and sleep patterns” where recovery is taking place.

On a multi-bed recovery ward, the noise levels should not exceed 40dB LAeq,1hr during the daytime and 35dB LAeq,1hr at night (between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am). This gives patients the best chance at a full recovery because proper rest will be allowed as the ward gets quieter throughout the day.

Other spaces, such as small offices and meeting rooms have a noise level expectation of no higher than 40dBLAeq, 1hr while larger areas, such as open, clinical places like A&E departments can work at around 45dBLAeq, 1hr.

HTM 08-01 also lays out the expectations for noise from medical equipment, nursing call systems and the vibrations caused by plant rooms and medical facilities such as MRI machines as there can be excess noise generated by these as well as the people within a space.

Other Considerations

Acoustics in

At times, a long-term solution is required to aid recovery.  For example, in a residential care home or a mental health unit.

In these spaces, HTM 08-01 doesn’t necessarily apply, although it is considered good practice to take relevant items into consideration. Instead, these spaces must comply with the sound-insulation criteria for rooms for residential purposes as required by Approved Document E of the Building Regulations.

How Can We Help?

Prism Acoustics are experts at interpreting and guiding the planning and development of a medical facility through to its completion.

We offer a range of acoustic services to architects and developers to consult on projects for the healthcare sector.

Our expert acoustic consultants can help to create hospitals, wards and GP surgeries that are acoustically designed to reduce noise levels that will aid patient recovery and maintain confidentiality for all.  

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About Prism Acoustics

Prism Acoustics are leading acoustic consultants based in Birmingham in the West Midlands.

Prism work alongside architects, designers and developers, offering acoustic consultancy on a range of projects in the following sectors:

  • Educational 
  • Healthcare 
  • Residential 
  • Industrial
  • Commercial  
  • Sound monitoring and acoustic modelling for live events.

Prism is currently developing the next generation of acoustic prediction software, using virtual reality to demonstrate how the sound will carry before development work has even started! We can carry out environmental noise surveys and will work alongside you to ensure that your acoustic needs are met to the highest standard.

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