Warnings that 24-hour opening may lead to hearing problems for bar staff

The TUC and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) are warning that 24-hour opening will lead to an increased likelihood of workers in bars, clubs and pubs being exposed to dangerously loud noise for longer.

They estimate the 568,000 people already working in the leisure industry will be subjected to music so loud they could lose or permanently damage their hearing.

TUC and RNID are urging employers to do more to protect workers’ hearing.

Brian Lamb, director of communications at RNID, said: “Noise at work issues are usually associated with industries such as manufacturing and construction. However, with more licensed premises opening longer and playing loud, amplified music, staff working in bars, clubs and pubs might not realise their hearing is being put at such high risk.”

The RNID said noise-induced hearing loss is often cumulative and not immediately obvious, and is seldom recognised.

With tighter Control of Noise at Work Regulations coming into force in April 2006 and 2008 for the leisure industry, changes have to be made, the TUC said.

Hugh Robertson, senior health and safety officer at the TUC, said: “If bar and club owners don’t protect their staff from ear-splitting noise, they will end up in court. The industry must get its act together quickly before it is hit with a huge wave of compensation claims and enforcement action.”

Hearing protection for bar, club and pub workers subjected to music played well above the safe and legal level is vitally important, he added.

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