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Regulation of noise pollution

| 09/04/2017 | 4 Comments

Why doesn’t the Cayman Islands have any laws regarding residential noise pollution? “Environmental noise exposure is associated with adverse effects on human health including hearing loss, heart disease, and changes in stress-related hormone levels,” says the abstract of a recently published research paper found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.

What about tourists who came to the Cayman Islands to unwind and are kept awake by sirens, loud music, grass mowing, trees trimming and leaves blowing at all hours?


Auntie’s answer: There is actually more than one law that deals with the issue of noise pollution, though I am not sure that any is specifically related to “residential”.

A Department of Environmental Health (DEH) official pointed to several laws that cover noise pollution, but acknowledged that the various regulations “may make it a challenge to properly address”.

In addition, he explained that some noises are part of operations and a possible infraction would depend on the time of day or night when the machinery operated or the noise is heard. “Generally there are also a number of characteristics and conditions that need to be considered for protection of public health,” he said, adding that new or updated laws would be needed to adequately regulate the issue.

Among the relevant regulations is the Public Health Law (2002 Revision). Under Part III – Nuisances, Section 7(2)(w) it says that any “noise or vibration (other than noise or vibration caused by an aircraft) which is a nuisance, is a statutory nuisance”.

If the chief environmental health officer then determines that a nuisance exists, the person causing it can be served with an abatement notice. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence and on conviction the offender can be liable to fine of $500 for each offence and an additional $50 for each day the nuisance continues after the notice is given. There are other bits and pieces to this law regarding abatement but that gives you the gist of it.

I know you didn’t ask about the laws regulating the work place but environmental noise in any situation has the potential to be harmful, as you quote in your question, therefore I believe those are relevant as well.

The Labour Law (2011 Revision), under Part VIII – Health, Safety and Welfare at Work, Section 58 says, “Every employer shall ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare at work of his employees.” The next few sections specify the various requirements that need to be met to protect workers. Then Section 66(1) says, “Any employer who contravenes the general duty imposed by section 58 commits an offence.”

Failure to comply with any resulting remedial notice to fix the problem would be an offence; the fine after conviction is $1,000 with a further $100 for each day nothing is done.

As mentioned in other columns concerning DEH-related issues, you can lodge a complaint with the department about noise pollution by calling (743-5982), emailing or downloading and submitting the complaint form from the DEH website.

If the noise pollution is a labour issue, direct those complaints to the Department of Labour and Pensions by calling their main office phone (945-8960) or confidential hotline (945-3073), or through email.

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Category: Ask Auntie, Environmental Questions

Comments (4)

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  1. satirony says:

    One of my pet peeves is hydraulic rock hammers, especially the ones that operate on Sundays, like those close to the Agriculture Grounds. They can be heard downwind from two miles away. It's intolerable and mindbogglingly selfish. Next are those jake-brake truckers, who blast down through the gears in residential areas, because they must think it's clever, like boys on push-bikes doing wheelies and saying, "look at me!" I know they're a small minority, but they're just inconsiderate and childish people who have never grown up, and it's about time the Police did something about them, or the quarries banned them until they get their problems fixed. Aaaagh! You shouldn't have got me started!

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  2. J B says:

    this is a country that is great at making laws and afraid to enforce any of them

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Ummm, the Towns and Communities Law covers this, but of course this is Cayman. The relevant agencies do not know it exists, let alone enforce it.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Every day you can hear trucks with illegal jake brakes, the police are afraid to stop them. Every weekend someone is playing loud music at public beach, the police are too lazy or afraid to respond to complaints, every day unlicensed dirt bikes run up and down and if you call the cops they just tell you they know about them, but do nothing. Need I go on?

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