When is Music Too Loud?

The 2005 Control of Noise at Work Regulations recognises music as a deliberate noise created for entertainment.

Entertainment Noise, the Music Industry and the Law

Since April 2008, the entertainment industry has fallen under ‘The Control of Noise at Work Regulations' (2005). This recognises music as a deliberate noise created for entertainment purposes.  As such, robust and practical noise exposure guidelines are required to ensure the safety of those in the near vicinity.

Offering the correct means of protection to workers, employers and artists in the music and entertainment industry will not only help them keep their hearing but their careers too. Therefore, owners and venue operators are under legal obligation not to expose their workforce to excessive and potentially harmful noise levels.

The Noise Regulations cover a variety of music and entertainment sectors where live music is played or recorded, including pubs, nightclubs and other venues such as concert halls. Employees in these environments that are covered include the bar and floor staff such as glass collectors, musicians, security personnel as well as self-employed workers. The public, however, does not fall under the same legislation.

Responsibility of the Entertainment Industry towards controlling Noise at Work

entertainment industry falls under ‘The Control of Noise at Work Regulations' (2005)It is up to the venue operator to appoint a qualified member of staff to ensure that they comply with the necessary regulations at all times. The most important factor that they will need to consider is not simply just how loud the noise is, but the amount of time employees' are subjected to it in their working environment.

Noise is measured using decibels, or dB for short, with an ‘A' weighted frequency filter applied by the sound measurement instrument to replicate the response of the human ear.

When taking control of noise in a working environment, the first step is eliminating the hazard. If this is not possible, one should try to reduce the volume or level of noise before trying to separate employees from it or limit the number of employees subjected to it. Reducing the amount of time that employees are subjected to the loud noise can also be used as a preventative measure, as well as introducing hearing protection in the form of earplugs or hearing defenders.

Other steps that can be taken to limit noise exposure in an entertainment venue include using electronic limiters on the equipment. The direction speakers are pointed can also make a huge difference, for example, ceiling mounted speakers at lower volumes can help direct noise toward the dance floor and away from others.

In addition, it is important to improve the quality of the sound generated so that it does not distort and also educate employees so that they can help prevent noise from reaching excessive levels.  Screening, use of visual warning systems and insulation can all be found in entertainment venues to protect workers' hearing and prevent hearing loss.

Find out more about entertainment noise monitoring,

This article is written in support of Noise Action Week 2013 - for more information on this initiative, please refer to the website here.

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