6th May 2008


 Issue No.  2008/10



The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations) came into force in April 2006  but the European Directive (2003/10/EC) on which the Regulations are based allowed the music and entertainment sectors a two-year transitional period recognising that music is unusual as it is noise deliberately created for enjoyment.
With effect from April 2008, the Noise Regulations replaced the existing regulations protecting workers in the music and entertainment sectors from exposure to excessive noise. Exactly the same law now applies in the music and entertainment sectors as elsewhere.
Music and entertainment sectors are defined in the Noise Regulations as all workplaces where:
a)    live music is played; or
b)    recorded music is played in a restaurant, bar, public house, discotheque or nightclub, or alongside live music or a live dramatic or dance performance.
The HSE recognise that practical guidelines are necessary to help workers, employers and freelancers in the music and entertainment sectors protect their hearing.
A guide, ‘Sound Advice’, is being developed by an industry working group with support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – which will contain practical advice on controlling noise at work in the music and entertainment sectors. It is expected to be available in July 2008.

Background Information
1.   If “sound” is that which is detected by the ear (what the ear hears) then noise is excessive or “unwanted sound”.
2.   Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing damage. This damage can involve loss of hearing or at lower levels permanent sensations such as “ringing in the ears” which is known as “tinnitus.”
Noise is measured in decibels (dB). When average noise levels are measured this is expressed as “dB(A).” This is the unit of measurement used to reflect the response of the human ear to the noise being measured/experienced.
Typical noise levels are illustrated in the following table:

Noise Levels dB(A)
Typical Examples
50 – 60
Normal conversation
65 – 75
Loud Radio 
90 – 100
Arc welding, Power tools
85 – 120
General Manufacturing Industry
100 – 110
Night Club, Road Drill
110 -120
Loud engineering activities, punch presses, riveting activities, sheet metal fabrication
120 – 150
Jet Engines, motor sports
As you can see from the above table, the ‘Nightclub’ scene is – as you might expect – a noisy work environment.
The current levels and the required actions are as follows:-

FIRST ACTION LEVEL (Lower Exposure Action Value (LEAV)) 80 dB(A)
  • Provide hearing protection (PPE) (though there is no requirement to enforce its use).
  • Provide information, Instruction and Training to include details of the likely exposure and the risk to hearing that noise creates, how employees should report defects in PPE and noise control equipment, how to access the PPE, when to use it and how to correctly use the PPE.
  • Generally seek to reduce the risk of hearing loss.
SECOND ACTION LEVEL (Upper Exposure Action Value (UEAV)) 85 dB(A)
In addition to the above:
Enforce the use of PPE – proof of this will include evidence of disciplinary warnings being issued where employees fail to comply
  • Where possible, establish compulsory hearing protection demarcation zones with appropriate signage.
  • Implement control measure and assess working practices to see if noise can be reduced at source.
In addition to the above two action levels there will be a limit action level of 87 dB(A) which must not be exceeded. This is the maximum noise level that should be experienced at the ear taking into account the reduction afforded by hearing protection.
In addition to the above two action levels there will be a limit action level of 87 dB(A) which must not be exceeded. This is the maximum noise level that should be experienced at the ear taking into account the reduction afforded by hearing protection.

Industrial deafness is very much a sleeping giant and when it creeps up on you the effects can be catastrophic and irreversible.
If you own or run premises in the Music and Entertainment industry you will need to take appropriate actions.  These will depend very much on the individual circumstances found in your premises.  Clearly more information will be available when the ‘Sound Advice’ guide becomes available.  In the meantime you should consider the following actions:
  • Carrying out a noise measurement
  • Locating ‘speakers’ away from main work areas (e.g. bar serving)
  • Providing job rotation so that employees do not work in the noisiest location for the whole of their work shift
  • Provide hearing protection and enforce its use as appropriate
  • Provide guidance and instructions to employees
  • Provide a ‘quiet’ area or room
Please email info@sentientuk.co.uk if you would like to discuss how you can improve the management of noise exposure in your work place or if you require assistance in carrying out a noise survey.




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