Yes. Loud music can do the same damage to your hearing as other loud noise, and noise levels in pubs and clubs are often very high. Musicians, DJs, bar staff, glass collectors and security staff are most at risk.
Whether noise will cause hearing damage – or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) – depends on the volume of the noise, and how long you are exposed to it.
Noise is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is around 60dB. Noise of less than 75dB, even for long periods, is unlikely to damage your hearing. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reviewed the research on pub noise published since 1985 and found that most pubs expose workers to noise levels above 95dB.
Remember the 'two metre rule' – if it is so noisy that you find it difficult to communicate with a colleague who is two metres away, the noise is loud enough to damage your hearing.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 covers the music and entertainment industries (this includes pubs, restaurants and clubs where recorded music is played) and aims to ensure that workers' hearing is protected from excessive noise at their place of work.
The Sound Advice website provides information and guidance on the control of noise at work in the entertainment industries, including pubs and clubs.
The Action on Hearing Loss’ Loud music campaign has information on how to protect your hearing, including guidance for people working in pubs and clubs.
For more help, see workSMART's Noise and Hearing section.