Musicians, performers and noise at work

Live music and entertainment noise at venues can affect employees hearingMusicians: entitled to legal protection just like any other worker

Whilst the subject of the long term effects of noise for performing arts professionals has always been sensitive and difficult to assess, recent high profile (and very costly!) claims for hearing loss and acoustic shock within the music and entertainment industry have reinforced that the industry as a whole is expected to comply with the 2005 EU Noise at Work Regulations and protect their workers.

The Regulation recognises that music is unusual as it is noise deliberately created for enjoyment, but nonetheless workers in the industry have a right to protect their hearing from damage and especially in the case of performers, to safeguard their careers. As such, owners, music companies and venue operators are now legally obliged to ensure their workforce is protected from excessive noise levels in much the same way as a factory worker is protected.

Music and entertainment sectors defined in the Noise Regulations are workplaces where live music is played or where recorded music is played in places such as a restaurant, public houses, clubs, or alongside live music or live dramatic or dance performances.

It is clear that in some cases the industry has been slow to act and requires support through practical guidelines, access to the right tools and access to training to help them protect their employees. It is here that Pulsar instruments is ideally placed to help. It has developed a free Guide for employers detailing the Regulations which offers simple advice and answers to the most commonly-asked questions; it is experienced in providing solutions to the industry (see below); it offers a range of noise measurement tools; and, furthermore offers express training in noise measurement and awareness.

Whose responsibility is it?

Everyone involved in music and entertainment has a responsibility to help with noise management. However, it is the employer who is legally responsible for complying with the Control of Noise at Work Regulation (2005). ‘Employer’ in this context may include concert promoters, event organisers, theatrical producers, contractors, club owners and publicans. Any safety inspection of the aforementioned entertainment venues will consider what measures are in place to meet the Noise Regulations.

The Noise Regulations require employers to manage the risk to their employees – full time and part-time – and, where possible, freelancers. Staff who operate in this industry also have a legal duty to wear hearing protection as instructed by their employer, and follow any other guidance to remain ‘safe’ from exposure to excessive noise.

How to protect hearing whilst maintaining the right atmosphere

Use of hand-held Noise measurement tools

Our Pulsar Nova sound level meters are perfect for measuring and monitoring entertainment noise. They can be used for anything from simple spot checks to ensure noise levels are kept within regulation, as well as for monitoring how much occupational noise employees and performers are exposed to, through to environmental monitoring of any noise impacts at large.

Case Study 1: Leeds Direct Arena, UK
When the First Direct Arena first opened they needed to find the perfect instrument to ensure that noise levels were kept within the UK’s health and safety regulations, whilst still ensuring the best acoustic and entertainment experience for the audience. It was fitting then this prestigious venue would invest in a top of the range Pulsar Nova, a high performance sound level meter, from fellow Yorkshire designer and manufacturer Pulsar Instruments.  This meter is perfectly suited for applications such as occupational and environmental noise monitoring in large concert venues where precise noise and impact assessments are required by Law and noise levels must be kept at the right level for all involved.

All the Pulsar Nova meters are fitted with OLED technology and illuminated keypads for allowing function keys and data to be seen in all conditions; ideal for venues where safety staff work without much lighting.

Staff at First Direct Arena have received technical support and advice from Pulsar since they received their first Nova meter ensuring that their brand new noise measurement kit was fully maximised.


Use of personal noise dosimeters

Noise dosimeters offer a personal and unobtrusive way to monitor an individuals’ noise exposure. This might be of particular use in the entertainment industry relating to the capture of data on staff that move location often, shift workers their staff’s noise exposure for hard to reach staff.  Such staff include: bar staff, security staff, artists/musicians, maintenance or health and safety staff.

Case study 2: English National Opera, UK
English National Opera, were very aware of the need to monitor the noise exposure of their staff in a discreet way. They decided they needed a robust, reliable and unobtrusive system that would allow them to gain a greater understanding of the typical personal noise exposure levels received by members of our orchestra, chorus, stage performers, technicians and other staff. Given that the music and performance dynamics change from production to production, they needed to incorporate these differences into their noise control plan.

They invested in the Pulsar NoiseBadge personal dosimetry system. This system consists of small, robust and lightweight dosimetry units that attach comfortably to the shoulder of the employee being monitored. After each session the information is communicated to a reader unit where the essential measurement information is viewed. Further analysis and reporting is available including the time histories of noise levels which have been essential to determining when the main exposure levels occur and which members of staff are most affected and then investigate ways of minimising their risks.


Use of noise-activated warning signs

Musicians can be affected by NIHLNoise levels in pubs, clubs and other entertainment venues will often be high to create the right atmosphere. However, many venues have noise limits or controls put in place as a result of nuisance noise claims or simply because these venues are trying to protect their employees hearing.

The PulsarSafeEar noise-activated warning sign is ideal for use in music and entertainment venues, pubs, nightclubs and temporary pop-up venues, to warn your staff and visitors when noise levels become too high, and also to indicate when hearing protection must be worn. They can also be used to signal quiet zones as well where noise levels must be kept down by setting the PulsarSafeEar to trigger at a lower level to ensure that noise levels in quiet environments stay within acceptable levels.

A Data Logger can be added to record the noise levels and to give you a record that can be printed out for reference and or used to identify noise levels in case of public complaints.  Remote units can be added to make sure everyone is aware of the risk of noise exposure even if they are away from the noise sources.

How does this sound?

If after reading this post, you think you would like to see these meters in action, you can request a demonstration by calling 01723 518011, emailing sales@pulsarinstruments.com or completing our contact form.