In addition to causing problems for people in the workplace, noise generated in the workplace can also cause disturbance to people nearby.

These include people at work and at leisure outside in gardens, parks, public spaces as well as those living and working within nearby buildings. Particularly noise-sensitive properties are residential dwellings, schools and hospitals. Noise may originate from: machines and processes within workplace buildings (in which case the fabric of the building envelope will provide some attenuation of noise transmitted to the environment); external sources such as generators, pumps, motors, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment: transport of material to and from the workplace, and associated loading and unloading of vehicles, and use of fork lift trucks; sound from public address systems such as staff announcements, alarms, and end-of-shift signals.