Festival workers get extra protection

The 2008 summer festival season is already underway, but this year, organisers have to be even more careful not to expose employees at these events to excessive levels of noise.

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force in the music and entertainment sectors on April 6 this year – two years after all other sectors had to comply with the legislation.

Pubs, clubs, concerts and other music events and premises now have to ensure workers are not exposed to levels of 87 decibels or above.

Hearing protection measures must be in place if there is a consistent exposure of 80 decibels or above, and employers have to make sure hearing protection is available if workers will be constantly exposed to noise of 85 decibels or above – roughly equivalent to standing two metres away from a generator.

But the Health and Safety Executive said this did not mean that this summer’s festivals would be full of roadies, bar staff and even bands wearing earplugs.

A spokesperson told edie: “It’s done on an average exposure level, so it’s not that if you reach a certain exposure level you are in trouble – it’s over a period of time.

“There are simple ways that people can be protected. That could involve changing round work duties, for example people at a bar could be serving for so long, then go off and do another task.”

He added: “Earplugs and earphones are an absolute last resort.”

About 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work.

A sell-out conference on the new legislation hosted by the Institute of Acoustics earlier this year heard that all types of music – including classical – can cause damage.

Among performers, DJs are the group at most risk of suffering hearing problems.

Kate Martin

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