Planning an Event? Why You Need to Keep the Noise Down
When planning outdoor events in the summer its crucial to consider noise – to protect health of workers and keep the peace with neighbours. Here are some tips on avoiding noise problems from professional event planners.
Summer is fast approaching and the outdoor events season is gearing up. If you’re involved in planning an event, it’s crucial to ensure noise isn’t so loud that it’s a potential threat to the hearing of those working at or attending the event, or causes disturbance to people living or working nearby.
How is noise so harmful?
It’s no secret that loud noise can damage your hearing, and such damage is permanent and disabling. Unfortunately, all individuals are at risk of harm from noise, as not only can hearing loss occur due to exposure to noise over time, but also as a result of a sudden loud noise. Hearing is a key part of communication – without it, people find it difficult to understand speech and keep up with conversations. It’s clear damage from loud noise can be incredibly severe, if not life-altering. Also, if noise is loud enough to harm the hearing of anyone working at or attending an event, it is very likely to be disturbing anyone nearby, preventing them from sleeping or relaxing at home or in their garden.
What the law says
The 2005 Control of Noise at Work Regulations states that employers must take every action to assess the exposure of all employees and contractors to loud noise at events and provide them with personal protection. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 also applies to the exposure of volunteers and the audience to loud noise, so it’s especially important if you’re planning an event to recognise you have a duty of care to protect all individuals at your event. You also need to consider the impact of your event on those nearby. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 gives local authorities the power to investigate any noise that might be ‘prejudicial to health or a nuisance.
How to identify noise risks
Before any event takes place, you should conduct a thorough risk assessment. You should consider:
- Risks to health and safety from noise and who could be affected (e.g. young children, audience close to sound sources)
- Your employees’ risk of exposure to noise
- How you need to comply with the law (e.g. safe working practices, whether personal hearing protection is required)
- The impact noise from your event will have on any neighbours.
What exposure constitutes a risk?
Depending on the type of event you’re planning, there may be a higher risk of noise exposure. In the event of a concert or music festival, for example, you should know that musicians, as well as stewards and support staff, are exposed to high levels of noise. This can happen on stage or off, especially given that hearing damage can occur from long term exposure to loud noise. People attending an event are not covered by health and safety at work regulation – but do you really want to harm their hearing? If noise is really loud, there is also the likelihood your event will disturb neighbours and be subject to complaints. By managing volume and any associated noisey activity (like setting up and clearing out) you can avoid this.
What you can do
Once your risk assessment is complete, you can take steps to control the noise level at your event. Here’s what you can do:
- Limit exposure for employees by providing regular breaks from loud noise, be it machinery or sound systems
- Provide quiet areas away from sources of noise to allow audiences to reduce the risk of damage to their hearing (did you know, 80% of festival goers experience tinnitus – ringing in the ears – after attendance, which can cause long-term pain?)
- Design your venue to prevent the audience from being within 3 metres of loudspeakers (where practical)
- Reduce overall sound output so that louder sections don’t exceed safe levels
- Clearly communicate with your employees and those attending your event – this could mean displaying warnings or educating employees on how to use personal hearing protection
- Let neighbours know about your event — they are far less likely to complain if you’ve build a relationship with them and they know what’s going on
Planning an event is a mammoth task, but noise awareness plays a significant part. It’s crucial to protect yourself, your employees and the attendees of your event from damage from noise. Loud noise is likely to provoke complaints from neighbours — you can reduce the likelihood of this by having a noise management plan in place.
Why not see how you can get involved with Noise Action Week and raise awareness of the devastating cost of excesssive noise to our lives?
About the author: Event Safety Plan has been developed by the production team at Entourage Live, an events production company with a combined experience of over 40 years of delivering events safely. Our team are passionate about helping raise the awareness and standards of safety within the events industry through providing innovative tools and training.