Hearing Loss and the Entertainment Industry: A 21st Century Phenomena
Noise Induced Hearing Loss is a condition that affects the inner ear and occurs as a result of exposure to excessive noise. Noise damages the hair cells in the ear and any hearing loss as a result is permanent and irreversible. Common signs of Noise Induced Hearing Loss include asking people to repeat themselves during a normal conversation or having to lip read, having to turn the TV up and missing high pitched sounds such as the doorbell or telephone ringing. Some sufferers may also suffer from Tinnitus. According to the 2008/ 2009 Labour Force Survey 17,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, ringing in the ears and other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work*.
Regulations protecting employees from exposure to noise have been in place as early as 1963 and further protection came in the form of the Noise at Work Regulations 1989. However these Regulations in general offered protection to employees who worked in heavy industries such as coal miners or steel workers who had been exposed to levels of noise exceeding 85 decibels on a dailly basis without the provision of hearing protection.
However, recent legislation has been extended to afford protection to workers in the entertainment industry. On 6 April 2008 the existing regulations protecting workers in the music and entertainment sectors from exposure to excessive noise were replaced by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. These Regulations have reduced the level of acceptable noise exposure limit at work from 85 decibels to 80 decibels and have imposed that employers provided sufficient hearing protection to workers that are being exposed to noise levels greater than this.
According to the Health and Safety Executive there are over 1 million employees in Great Britain exposed to levels of noise that puts their hearing at risk. The Health and Safety Executive also stated in a 2002 publication that the problem of hearing caused by the excessive noise levels in the entertainment industry is un-quantified, but expected to be “wide spread”**. In addition most full time workers in bars and night clubs tend to work up to a 10 hour shift further increasing the probability of noise damage occurring.
We envisage a large number of claims from a variety of employees in the entertainment industry including; bar managers, waitresses, waiters and glass collectors. All of whom may be likely to develop Noise Induced Hearing Loss in the coming years due to the fault of their employers.
If you or anyone you know has worked in a noisy environment and now suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to contact Roberts Jackson Solicitors to see how we can help.
*The Health and Safety Executive website – http://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/advice.htm
** Noise levels and Noise Exposure of workers in pubs and clubs – A Review of the Literature http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr026.pdf