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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 May 2007, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Bar staff 'should wear ear plugs'
Bar workers need protection, the charity says
Campaigners have attacked the music and entertainment industry for not preparing measures to protect the hearing of bar and club workers.

The Royal National Institute for Deaf People said staff working where loud music was played should get ear plugs.

A poll of 200 businesses showed that over half of employers have no plans to make hearing protection available - despite new laws coming in next year.

But industry representatives said a "common-sense" solution was needed.

Under EU directives, firms have to ensure staff are protected where noise exceeds 85 decibels.

It is important we adopt a common-sense solution, that is why we have been given an exemption
Mark Hastings
British Beer and Pub Association

Most clubs and some pubs and bars will exceed this, but the music and entertainment industry has been given an exemption until next April.

The RNID poll found that 68% of employers were unaware they had to comply with the law and 55% had no plans to make hearing protection available.

Emma Harrison, head of campaigns at the RNID, said: "Prolonged exposure to loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss and if properly implemented these regulations will save the hearing of literally hundreds of thousands of people in the music and entertainment industries.

"If they are ignored or implemented half-heartedly employers could face a wave of compensation claims for staff."

'Not logical'

She said there were ear plugs available which blocked out background noise but will still enable staff behind the bar to take drinks orders.

"We are not trying to stop people enjoying themselves, just protect the hearing of staff."

But Mark Hastings, of the British Beer and Pub Association, said it was not logical to ask staff to wear ear plugs.

"It just would not work. We are looking at other solutions of protecting our staff.

"It is important we adopt a common-sense solution, that is why we have been given an exemption."

He suggested providing quiet areas where staff could take breaks could be a way round this.

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