Home > Structures

Walk the Line: The Importance of Fence Line Monitoring in Construction

Walk the Line: The Importance of Fence Line Monitoring in Construction

By Tim Turney

Establishing any new construction project is a careful logistical balancing act, with many aspects for project managers to consider; from site safety to environmental responsibility. Establishing perimeter, drawing up necessary documentation, ordering materials, creating traffic plans, workflows, and conducting risk assessments – a lot of thought and planning goes into even relatively small footprint construction projects.

Unfortunately, aspects of site start up can become overlooked, the balance between “short term gain and long term pain” prioritising actions that will get the site functioning and have contractors doing what they do best – building. One aspect that may be overlooked, and thus lead to potential “long term pain” for the project, is establishing a system of effective perimeter monitoring.

In an ideal world, projects would occur in a “bubble” that excess levels of dust, noise or vibrations could not escape. Site neighbors would be unaffected, governing authorities would have no reason to visit the site and the site’s social responsibility would be unaffected. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world.

There is a civic and legal responsibility to measure site emissions, backed by governing authorities. In the United States, under CAMP (Community Air Monitoring Plan), dust and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are reported on, and action taken if limits are exceeded – sites should be able to show compliance and maintain their reputations, and local communities must be considered.

While establishing a method for measuring site emissions may seem initially daunting, either due to a lack of clarity in which legal guidelines sites will have to follow to remain compliant or the research and paperwork involved in establishing a monitoring program, once an effective process is in place the same plan can be implemented for each and every new site or project.

There are two main methods for conducting monitoring – employing a third party consultant to establish a program, or use fence line monitoring equipment. The first can add considerable expense to a project budget depending on the type and duration of works, in some cases costing up to $500 an hour for the inspector’s time alone. The second can cost considerably less, either by hiring the equipment, or purchasing outright as an investment in future projects.

When making investments in monitoring technology, a choice can be made between employing individual units to monitor separate potential hazards or selecting a combined monitoring solution. Financial and efficiency savings can be made by using a combined solution that packages several environmental monitors together, such as the Casella Guardian2 fence line monitor, which brings together various combinations of dust, noise, and vibration monitoring equipment in a single enclosure. By employing a combined monitoring solution, safety managers only need to check a single unit or combined data report, a more efficient method than checking multiple monitors and data sources.

Once powered, such low intervention units can be left to enact monitoring 24/7, without the need for physical interaction. Reports can be sent remotely via email and if site limits are exceeded, alerts can be sent by SMS, allowing sites to monitor levels around the clock and react quickly to reduce levels of dust or noise that exceed set limits and mitigate potential negative outcomes. Such remote monitoring is more important now than ever before as we see work pressing forward in a “post-Covid-19” environment.

Combined monitoring solutions offer operators a great deal of flexibility, as they can be easily relocated as fence lines change or redeployed to new projects. Having a constant source of monitoring data gives projects a safety net in terms of accountability. Data is always on hand to prove that sites have been compliant, vital when dealing with potential complaints from site neighbors or spot-visits from environmental officers. In the event of emissions exceeding prescribed limits, operators can use alerts and reporting to assess the cause and mitigate the effects, changing workflows, equipment usage, and engaging proactively with the community and legislative bodies to outline plans to reduce or prevent limits from being exceeded again.

While fence line monitoring is not among the first considerations taken when establishing a new construction project, it is a vitally important part of the site safety ecosystem. Delivering peace of mind through constant monitoring and accountability with accurate, accessible data capture, though they might not be a project manager’s first thought, they should certainly never be an afterthought.

About Casella

Casella is dedicated to reducing environmental and occupational health risks by developing equipment and technology for dust, noise and vibration monitoring.

Casella’s core purpose is to create technology aimed at improving the working environment of employees, while providing robust data and equipment platforms to enable organisations to remain compliant with health and safety regulations. The company is an expert in the integration of sensor technology and data management systems that further improve productivity and overall safety in the workplace. Casella’s range of instrumentation includes real-time dust monitors, personal sampling pumps, sound level meters, personal dosimeters, hand-arm vibration and boundary/fence-line monitors. Casella is a global business, part of the IDEAL Industries Inc. group of companies, with offices in the UK, US, Australia, China and India.

The company has provided precision instrumentation since 1799 and supplied eminent figures, including Charles Darwin, with instrumentation for exploration and scientific work. Casella works with a network of specialist distributors to provide local service and client support to those searching out solutions for risk reduction and management.


Tim Turney is Global Marketing Manager at Casella and graduated as an engineer from Queen Mary and Westfield in London. Since starting at Casella in 1998, Tim has been involved in the acoustics and air sampling industry, specialising in measurement and instrumentation technologies.