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This is the full text of the Sound Advice Working Group recommendations on responsibilities. It may help you understand your responsibilities under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations.
2.1 Everyone involved in music and entertainment has a responsibility to help with noise management: from the promoter or venue operator through to performers, technicians, bar staff, stewards and DJs. The normal arrangements of employer/employee are sometimes difficult to determine and often vary with each engagement or show. Add to this the large number of self-employed people working as performers, sound engineers or technical crew and the picture can become very confused.
2.2 Because of these complexities, everyone working at live music events needs to take personal responsibility to think about their own noise exposure and take reasonable care not to damage their own hearing or that of other people. Simply relying on an overall 'employer' may not always be the most effective approach. It is important that the people who can most readily control sound levels, such as conductors, musical directors, sound engineers and sound technicians, recognise their responsibility for providing a safe workplace
2.3 The primary responsibility for complying with the Noise Regulations rests with the employer. Employers in the music and entertainment sectors may include, for example, concert promoters, event organisers, theatrical producers, contractors and publicans.
2.4 To help meet the requirements of the Noise Regulations employers are advised to:
2.5 The Noise Regulations place duties on all the employers involved in work at the same workplace. Employers have responsibility for their own employees and, so far as is reasonably practicable, to any other person at work who is affected by the work they do. Employers should exchange information and collaborate to ensure that they fulfil their duties without unnecessary duplication.
2.6 Engagers/contractors, fixers and freelancers engaging 'deps' (substitutes) or extras should ensure that the risks and control measures in place are communicated to replacement and temporary workers.
2.7 Some workers should be given particular consideration when making a noise risk assessment, for example people with a pre-existing hearing condition, those with a family history of deafness (if known), pregnant women, children and young people.
2.9 The Management Regulations restrict the employment of young people (those under 18) where there is a risk to health (including noise). Children (those under the compulsory school age) must not be employed where there is any risk to their hearing from noise. Employers must also ensure that young people employed by them are protected against any risks to their health and safety at work that are due to their inexperience, immaturity and lack of awareness of risk.
To protect its child workers from noise risks, a TV company decided to limit the noise exposure of children to less than half that of adults, for example, if the adults might be exposed to an average of 78 dB over 8 hours, any children would only be exposed over a maximum of 4 hours.
2.10 There are also obligations on employers under the Management Regulations to:
2.11 It is important that employers who engage workers on a part-time basis work with them to ensure that their exposure to noise is properly managed. Where part-time workers work alongside full-timers doing the same work, they should be subject to the same protective measures. Where it is known that part-time workers are exposed to noise during other employment, employers should consider the overall risks to those people in deciding how to protect their hearing, and not just look at their noise exposure during the specific periods when they are employed by them.
2.12 Under the HSW Act, employees must take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of others while at work and co-operate with their employer to enable the employer to carry out their legal duties. Employees should take care to avoid actions that might damage their hearing or the hearing of others.
2.13 Under the Noise Regulations employees should:
2.14 The HSW Act defines a self-employed person as an individual who works for gain or reward but is not under a contract of employment. Under the Act, self-employed people must conduct their work in such a way to ensure their own health and safety and that of others. Under the Noise Regulations they have the same responsibilities as employers and employees for their health and safety arising from the exposure to noise and for other people whose hearing might be damaged by their 'acts or omissions'. Although self-employed people are not required to provide themselves with health surveillance, it is recommended that, where appropriate, they consult an occupational health service provider. Many performers and sound operators are self-employed. Note, however, that the members of the self-governing orchestras are regarded as employees for health and safety. See also Sound Advice Note 7 Freelancers.
1 Contracts can help the planning process by setting out the arrangements for noise control. They have been found particularly helpful where there are several contractors working together with a producer/venue provider(s). Contracts can be useful when dealing with the specific requirements of the Noise Regulations and can form part of the overall health and safety considerations for the event/production.
2 A contractual approach is often more readily understood by the parties concerned as so many matters are already covered in this way - from performers' riders to equipment specifications. The contractual approach can also act as an aide-memoire. Experience shows joint meetings can often slip by because of time constraints, whereas specified contractual obligations for consultation are usually taken on board.
3 Including things in a contract can help principal contractors/producers to pass on relevant information to subcontractors. For example, a contract stipulating a hearing protection zone could insist that subcontractors' crews wear earmuffs.
4 The roles of different professionals in achieving effective noise-control measures should be clearly set out. This may be most successfully accomplished by inclusion in a contract, either within the main document or as appendices. Central to this process are professionals such as sound engineers, DJs, conductors and musical directors. The extent of their responsibilities should be clearly specified. Designated responsibilities should be appropriate to their training and experience.
5 For smaller-scale events, contracts may be the most direct way of ensuring noise-control issues are considered. Key points can easily form part of standard contracts for musicians. These may be of most help to those with individual contractual arrangements, particularly for short hire periods. Similarly, venue operators can include some standard points relating to their requirements from performers - for example which instruments and equipment will be brought to the performance by the performers and what, if any, control measures will be carried out by them.
6 In small venues a contract should help remove grey areas about who would do what and identifying what needs to be done by laying down responsibilities early on (apart from the non-transferable legal responsibilities).
7 Work undertaken for a client by a contractor is usually covered by a civil contract. It is good practice for health and safety requirements to be written in to such a contract. However, health and safety responsibilities are defined by criminal law and cannot be passed on from one party to another by a contract. In any client/contractor relationship, both parties will have duties under health and safety law. Similarly, if the contractor employs subcontractors to carry out some or all of the work, all parties will have some health and safety responsibilities. The extent of the responsibilities of each party will depend on the circumstances. (Extract from: Use of contractors: A joint responsibility INDG368.
One fixer expressed this view:
'When going to work in premises new to me, it would be helpful to make it part of the contract that the venue owner ensures there is a briefing re exits, hazards, fire arrangements, equipment location and to include noise issues.
'I'd like to see set out what noise-reduction features and equipment are available within the venue. They should make available noise assessments carried out by other users of the venue when performing, including what measures they took and the effectiveness of those measures. I don't want to have to chase it up but to have it as a clear part of the contract. No arguments.'
8 This appendix lists some of the considerations that could form part of an agreement. However blanket get-out clauses such as 'you must wear hearing protection at all times' should be avoided. Contracts should be tailored to the particular situation. This advice does not cover the area of contracts of employment nor is it exhaustive:
9 Provide information such as:
10 The implications for noise-reduction control measures could form part of all relevant contractual relationships covering such matters as:
11 Any such issues should be considered in conjunction with other health and safety concerns such as fire.
For a more detailed explanation of terms see Useful information and glossary.
Freelancers: Someone who is not permanently employed full-time by any one employer. A freelancer may go through periods of self-employment or be employed by more than one employer.
Noise exposure: 'The noise dose', which can be calculated, takes account of the actual volume of sound and how long it continues. Noise exposure is not the same as sound level, which is the level of noise measured at a particular moment.