Licensees warned of effects of loud music on customer and staff hearing

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Related tags: Noise levels, Sound, Nightclub

Licensees at pubs and clubs are being urged to consider the hearing of their staff and customers when playing loud music.According to a leading...

Licensees at pubs and clubs are being urged to consider the hearing of their staff and customers when playing loud music.

According to a leading occupational health specialist, Kevin Williams, the dangers of damage to hearing among staff are particularly high at this time of year.

Employers who are not careful could find themselves with compensation claims for tens of thousands of pounds.

Mr Williams warned that even if pubs and clubs turn the music down, the sheer number of revellers on the premises, especially over Christmas and New Year, will still send noise levels well above the legal limits for staff.

"It's called the cocktail party effect. The more people there are in a venue, the louder they all speak in order to be heard, so, by the time the room is full, everybody is yelling. It's certainly not healthy for staff who are exposed to this every night," he said.

He added that local councils were calling him out regularly to measure noise levels in pubs and clubs.

More often than not the readings were found to be well above the limits known as "action levels".

He explained: "The industrial standard for a worker's exposure to noise is 90 decibels averaged over an eight hour period. Personally, I have taken many readings in places such as discos or karaoke bars where the noise levels reached more than 102 decibels."

He advised that licensees move staff regularly to quieter parts of the pub to bring exposure to noise back within legal limits.

Mr Williams also urged publicans to make careful records of any such precautions they take in order to defend themselves against possible future court action taken by a member of staff. Precautions should, he said, include hearing tests for new recruits.

Mr Williams said: "Noise may be part of the pub and club scene but there is enough evidence to show that many establishments are operating well above the noise action levels, so unless they adopt measures to protect staff there are leaving themselves seriously exposed to future claims."

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