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Pulsar Instruments, for noise meters, sound level meters and noise monitoring equipment

When is music too loud?

Key points and responsibility of the entertainment industry towards controlling noise at work

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", so robust and practical noise exposure guidelines are required to ensure the safety of those employees exposed to the music. Owners and operators of venues are under legal obligation not to expose their workforce to excessive and potentially harmful noise levels from sources such as headphones, speakers or even acoustic instruments. It follows that offering the correct means of protection to staff and artists in the music and entertainment industry will not only help them keep their hearing, but their careers too. 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 under the legislation include bar and floor staff such as glass collectors, musicians, security personnel as well as self-employed workers. The public, however, do not fall under the same legislation, so separating staff and customers will help to keep the punters who want the music louder away from the employees who must be protected.

Responsibility of the Entertainment Industry towards controlling Noise at Work

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 proximity to and 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. The most common way of measuring occupational noise levels is with a sound level meter or decibel meter compliant with the latest industry regulations, namely IEC 61672-1, or a noise dosimeter meeting IEC 61252.  Some operators try an use a very cheap non-compliant sound meter that may be priced as little as 10% of the cost of an approved one, but such units may have such high measurement errors that they will not identify where there may be a risk from noise and who is likely to be affected. Specific action must be taken at certain limit values:
Lower exposure action values Daily or weekly exposure of 80dB(A) Peak sound pressure of 135dB
Upper exposure action values Daily or weekly exposure of 85dB(A) Peak sound pressure of 137dB
Levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded Daily or weekly exposure of 87dB(A) Peak sound pressure of 140dB
It is important to note that even a change of 3dB in noise level can be significant. This is because of the way our ears work.  A 3dB increase in sound level doubles the noise exposure and this could make all the difference in terms of harm inflicted on hearing.  The exposure time would have to be halved to compensate. Examples of noise measurement control equipment used by Health and safety professionals:   Sound Level Meter Pulsar Nova SPL Meter         Noise Dosimeter   Pulsar doseBadge        Noise-activated warning sign PulsarSafeEar sign   The next important step is to eliminate 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. Such loudspeakers placement can significantly increase the customer’s music levels without increasing the hearing risk to staff. In addition, it is important to improve the quality of the sound generated so that it does not distort and also educate employees with regular noise awareness training courses 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. For more details on occupational noise measurement equipment and noise awareness training opportunities available from Pulsar Instruments plc, please ring us on 01723 518011 or visit our website www.pulsarinstruments.com  

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EMPLOYERS' GUIDE
Download your FREE 5 Steps Guide to Controlling Workplace Noise. Important Guidance on Employers' Duties under the Regulations

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