Noise is measured in units called decibels, shown as the figure dB. While most sounds can nowadays be measured using sensitive machinery, the human ear can only detect sounds within a certain range of frequencies. Very high frequencies such as the noise bats make to guide themselves about can often not be detected by the human ear. Similarly with very low frequencies, such as the noises created by whales and in some cases even elephants.
In order to account for the way in which the human ear responds to different frequencies a weighting system is used, referred to as A-weighting. In cases where peak noise levels are measured they use what is called a C-weighting.
Noise can contain a huge range of different frequencies, however when looking to control noise exposure, low frequency noise needs to be treated differently to high frequency noise. It is crucial when dealing with a wide range of frequencies, such as in the entertainment industry, that the correct type of hearing protection is used to eliminate the dangerous frequencies identified within a noise risk assessment.
Noise regulations require employers to take certain action at specific noise levels. This includes the levels of noise employees are exposed to over the course of a working day, and also the maximum noise levels to which employees are exposed in a working day.
These values are as follows:
Lower Exposure Action Values (LEAV):
Daily or weekly exposure of 80dB
Peak sound pressure of 135dB
Upper Exposure Action Values:
Daily or weekly exposure of 85dB
Peak sound pressure of 137dB
To give an example of the noise levels above, 70dB is the level at which you might have your radio on at home in the background, whereas average piano practice would give a level of 80dB. A live rock band can generate anything up to 135dB – a level at which hearing damage is a real danger. For those attending an occasional rock concert it would make good sense to wear hearing protection. For those who work in the entertainment industry; artists, musicians, sound recorders etc hearing protection is crucial if hearing damage and deafness is to be avoided.
What if my hearing has been damaged through my employment?
If you have suffered from hearing damage as a result of your job, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Employers have a duty to protect the health and welfare of their employees and providing suitable hearing protection, alongside appropriate procedures to protect workers’ hearing. Contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out for free how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.