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May 1, 2020

Bar Manager wins £40,000 after his hearing is damaged


WE solicitors llp are proud to have successfully concluded a claim for noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus on behalf of a 29 year old former Bar Manager.

Mr H, who worked at BAA Bar in Manchester for a number of years, will be the first of many claimants in their late 20’s early 30’s who are suffering the effects of working in the entertainment industry. Mr H’s hearing was damaged from being exposed to noise in excess of 100dB whereas the safe limit, according to legislation and the Health & Safety Executive, is 85dB.

Mr H started working at BAA Bar when he was at University and like many students, worked part time to help him through his studies.  He was quickly promoted to bar manager and worked with the company for a number of years.  It was a very busy city centre bar where he was exposed to noise from loud music and crowds of people.  After work his hearing seemed ‘dull’ until the next morning, an experience we have all had when leaving a noisy club or bar.

Historically, noise induced hearing loss claims have arisen from working in heavy industry such as mining, shipbuilding and metal fabricating. These claims were made by clients who were somewhere between their late 40’s and mid 60’s as it can take years for the symptoms to become noticeable.

In 2005 the Noise at Work Regulations came into effect and after April 2008, the regulations forced the entertainment industry to take steps to protect their workers hearing from the harmful effects of noise.  This could be the provision of and training on the use of hearing protection, such as ear plugs or other limiting measures such as rotating staff out of the noisy work area.  However many bars, clubs and pubs take little or no steps to protect their staff and this brings concerns that a younger generation will suffer with hearing problems due to exposure to loud noise at work.

The Health & Safety Executive issued guidance to the entertainment Industry in 2005 and gave an indication of the noise levels which staff were subjected to in their various roles in bars and clubs:-

  • Bar staff  89–99 dB
  • Glass  collector 90–100 dB
  • Waiters 102 dB
  • DJs 93–99 dB
  • Lighting technician 104 dB
  • Security 97 dB
  • Door 84 dB
  • Dance floor 94–104 dB

The safe limit of noise exposure is assessed at 85dB and as you can see, almost all of these examples are over the harmful level where, in order to comply with the Noise at Work Regulations, employers are required to take action to reduce the risk of noise exposure to staff.

Mr H started noticing hearing loss and ringing in his ears, a condition called tinnitus, and contacted us for help.  It became apparent the noise in the bar was over the safe limit of 85dB and when the DJ was playing it could often exceed 100dB.  At this level of noise, staff should only be exposed for minutes at a time to avoid permanent damage.  At the time our client and his colleagues were expected to work up to eight hour shifts, the entirety of which would be in noise.

Liability was eventually admitted by the insurers representing the bar and after medical evidence was finalised the case settled for £40,000.    The compensation awarded in Mr H’s case was much higher than we would have seen in the historic cases for older claimants simply due to his age.  It was determined that the need for private, more discreet hearing aids was greater for Mr H than it would be for a person claiming in their early 60’s for example and this resulted in a higher level of compensation to cover that future expense.

Over the last 15 years, since the 2005 regulations came into effect, there will be thousands of people across the country who have worked in the entertainment industry and are suffering with hearing loss and tinnitus through exposure to excessive noise.  Sadly many of those affected will be perhaps in their 20’s and 30’s and may not yet appreciate their hearing has been permanently damaged or may be embarrassed to admit their symptoms.

Mr H told us ‘in hindsight I should have sought help sooner. I thought the ringing in my ears would go away on its own but it didn’t. It’s important to realise that tinnitus is permanent. It has a big impact on my life, affecting sleep, my ability to socialise with friends and also my ability to concentrate whilst at work and studying.

At the beginning of the claim, my expectations in terms of compensation were low compared to the settlement achieved. WE Solicitors definitely exceeded my expectations. The advice I received from WE Solicitors was valuable and although the claim has taken a bit longer than I initially expected, the process has generally been hassle free and required minimal action on my part.

Have you worked at a bar, club or other entertainment venue? Was it so noisy that you had ringing or buzzing noise in your ears when you left? Contact us on 0800 294 3065 if you, or someone you know has been affected by exposure to noise whilst working in the entertainment industry. We can advise you on a No Win, No Fee basis today.