Occupational Noise Exposure and Regulatory Adherence in Music Venues in the UK

Christopher Barlow, Francisco Castilla-Sanchez

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    Noise in most working environments is an unwanted by-product of the work process, and in the majority of countries, most industries have had regulatory controls on noise exposure for several years. In the music industry the noise is the desired product rather than a by-product, and for a long time the entertainment industry in the UK was exempt from these regulations. From April 2008 however, the music industry in the UK became regulated under the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, meaning that employers in the entertainment industry from orchestras to nightclubs are legally required to adhere to the same requirements for controlling noise exposure for their staff that have been applied to other industries for many years, and which are based on ISO 9612:2009. It is now over two years since implementation of the regulations, and the key question is to what degree are employers in these sectors undertaking their responsibilities to staff in terms of noise assessment, reduction of exposure, provision of adequate protection and provision of training on noise risk? This study assessed four public music venues where live or/and recorded music is played. A total of 30 staff in different positions across the venues were monitored using noise dosimetry across a complete shift to determine noise exposure. A questionnaire was used to determine patterns of noise exposure, attitudes to noise levels and hearing loss and levels of training about noise risk. Results showed that the majority of staff (80%) in all venues exceeded the daily noise exposure limit value in their working shift. Furthermore, use of hearing protection was rare (<30%) and not enforced by most venues. The understanding of the hazard posed by noise was generally low, and the implementation of the noise regulations was at best haphazard, with staff regularly exceeding regulatory limits, and the implication is that the industry is still failing to meet its regulatory requirements.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of Springnoise 2011
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011


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