Noise and the Nightclub Worker
Loud music and noise are seen as essential parts of the events industry. Inevitably, this leads to staff working within that sector at significant risk of being left with permanent hearing problems. How are the employers within the entertainment sector working to protect the health and safety of their employees?
In a study published in the International Journal of Noise & Health, a Dublin researcher analysed noise from two nightclub employees at a number of different nightclubs in Ireland. A sound level meter was placed at the bar closest to the dance floor and a dosimeter was attached to the shirt of each participant. It was found that the average daily noise exposure of the participants working 20 hours per week was 92 decibels.
Over time, noise exposure greater than 85 decibels for eight hours can lead to permanent hearing loss. Work safety laws in the European Union require hearing protection to be provided to workers exposed to more than 85 decibels. However, only two clubs in the study provided this protection and only one required employees to wear the protection.
A number of studies have developed methods which can be adopted to protect bar workers from noise. Further, a number of research papers have also suggested methods which, if adopted, may assist in the control of exposure levels.
Studies suggest that a number of loudspeakers should be used to ensure that the level is uniformly distributed over the Dance floor and to prevent ‘hotspots’ where excessively high levels may occur close to speakers. Loudspeakers should be directional and located so that they concentrate their radiation onto the dance floor and away from the staff working locations. Staffs workstations or work areas should also be positioned away from the dance floor.
Staffing and job rotation could also be used to limit the time employees are working in the excessively noisy areas. The venue could achieve this by zoning the club into a number of areas depending on the sound pressure level. The daily noise exposure of employees is influenced by the amount of time spent in the noisy areas and it is therefore imperative that this is countered by also allocating time in the quieter zones of the premises.
Hearing conservation programmes can also be developed for employees within clubs. These could include routine audiometry, conducting noise assessments, regular sound level measurements, notifying employees of the risk to their hearing, and supply hearing protection and offering training on their use.
In another survey commissioned to look into the noise exposure of workers at live concerts, it was found that in general personnel employed in the live entertainment industry are exposed to noise levels above the upper exposure action level. As such, they should be provided with and enforced to wear hearing protection.
IF YOU BELIEVE YOU MAY HAVE BEEN AFFECTED
If you have been working in a nightclub, bar or the live entertainment industry and now find that your hearing is much worse than others your age, you regularly have to ask people to repeat themselves or can’t follow audible conversations, it could be as a result of your work. If you want to look into investigating this further please contact us today. There are strict time limits on making claims and you should look to do so as soon as you are aware of the potential link to your work.
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