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April 9, 2008

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Noise restrictions imposed on pubs and clubs

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations) came into force for the music and entertainment sectors on 6 April, bringing them in line with other workplaces where they have applied since April 2006.

The Noise Regulations will now apply to pubs and clubs, amplified live music events, orchestras, and other premises where live music or recorded music is played.

According to the HSE, thousands of people are exposed to loud noise at work, causing 170,000 people in the UK sto suffer from deafness, tinnitus, or other ear conditions. These Regulations aim to ensure workers’ hearing is protected from excessive noise at work, implement a European Commission Directive, and replace the Noise at Work Regulations 1989.

The latest Regulations will introduce the following changes:

• The level at which employers must ensure hearing protection is worn and where necessary hearing protection zones are signposted is now 85 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure); and the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and give them information and training, and access to hearing protection should they wish to use it, is now 80 decibels (daily or weekly average exposure).

• There is also an exposure limit value of 87 decibels, which takes account of any reduction in exposure provided by hearing protection, above which workers must not be exposed.

The Regulations will require employers to:

• assess the risks to employees from noise at work;

• take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks;

• provide employees with hearing protection if it is not possible to reduce the noise exposure enough using other methods;

• ensure legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded;

• provide employees with information, instruction and training; and

• carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.

Employees will have a duty to comply with the measures their employers introduce under the Regulations, in accordance with his or her instructions. This includes using control measures where present; wearing hearing protection when required; taking care of hearing protection and noise-control equipment provided; and reporting any defects or difficulties in using them.

Employees also have a duty during working hours to present themselves for health surveillance where this is required.

Back in 2005, Alison Wright Reid’s feature, ‘Notes of caution’ looked at the implications of the new regulations for the music industry, and explained why the sector was granted additional time to comply.

Also check out our new Legislation Page for this and other recent changes to health and safety legislation.

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