Jump to content

Dumb Question: What Are The Government Guide Lines On Sound Levels?


Recommended Posts

Hi Paul...


Thats fine but the Noise at Work Regs but do not apply to punters at a gig. They are not at work.


In fact if you do the calcs based on the NAW regs then a sound engineer cannot work without hearing protection.

I often worry about this in my spare time as I employ sound engineers.


Eg. 30 min sound check + 1 1/2 hour gig = 2 hours at say 98dB(A) Leq exposure.

Assuming he gets little or no exposure for the rest of the time.... The 8 hour exposure dose is


10 log (2/8 * 10^9.8) = 92dB(A) LEP,d


opps that is well above the 8 hour absolute limit of 87dB(A).

I hope this does show you that bar staff, security etc etc MUST MUST wear hearing protection.


What about punters then? Well this is less clear. If you read your Event Safety Guide... here are some rules:


No punters within 3M of a speaker

You must warn the public if the event LEQ is to be above 96dBA (look at the back of your last gig ticket......)

104dB(A) event LEQ is regarded as an absolute maximum. GO NO FURTHER (you would be a criminal idiot to expose yourself and your public to over 104dB(A) LEQ (event time).

140dB© is the maximum peak SPL allowed anywhere (watch out at the sub stacks)


Noise advisory Council ... Draft Code of Practice for Sound Levels in Discotheques


Suggests that SPL should not exceed 100dBA (event time LEQ) measured at the closest, loudest speaker PROVIDING there are rest areas with no more than 85dBA LEQ,5min, if this is not the case the maximum event LEQ drops to 95dBA.


... anyway I hope this helps. Some of this is not easy and we are on shifting sand.

Can we please be carefull throwing around H&S At Work figures as gig limits. They are not, the punters are not at work.

It sets false expectations and does not relate to the real world.


Hybrid, your question is not a no-brainer. If your question related to noise at work you had a good answer from Paul. If it was about gigs for the majority of people in the venue (the punters) you have a better one from me.








Try here seems to be in normal English.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well we all (should) know system height is our friend.


Get them pub/club speakers up high on speaker stands. You can get them 3M away from the nearest punter in most situations. This will really sort out your level drop relative from front to back. It will help to prevent hurting people in the front. There are no excuses for not attempting to do the best you can here.


The 3M rule is a festival principle I admit but it has a reason and the reason is valid for even small speaker design.


There is the ideal and then there is what we can do in practice. I am just sharing best practice.








...No punters within 3M of a speaker...


How would you apply this to gigs in smaller venues? Certainly in some venues I've worked in enforcing this rule would wipe out most of the audience space.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thats fine but the Noise at Work Regs but do not apply to punters at a gig. They are not at work.


Very true, and an issue that's confused many people. However, you do still owe them a Duty of Care under H&SaW 1974. In an extreme case you could still be sued.


I hope this does show you that bar staff, security etc etc MUST MUST wear hearing protection.


However, just for the pedants amongst us, CoNaW 2005 6.2 states:


"If any employee is likely to be exposed to noise at or above an upper exposure action value, the employer shall reduce exposure to as low a level as is reasonably practicable by establishing and implementing a programme of organisational and technical measures, excluding the provision of personal hearing protectors, which is appropriate to the activity." (my bold).


There are no easy answers, but simply handing out hearing protection - especially stuff which isn't chosen with the sound source in mind, isn't worn, or is worn incorrectly or which gives a false sense of security - creates a whole new set of problems.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

To add another area to the equation, you may also come into restrictions with regard to noise nuisance to residential dwellings nearby if you do gigs at venues near dwellings.


The EHO will no doubt want as little disturbance as possible, which is understandable :)


Certainly the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for Community Noise 1999 is one I've been exposed to which states sound levels not to be exceeded during night time hours (23:00 - 07:00) in order to avoid sleep disturbance. There are also levels advised for day-time hours (07:00 - 23:00) in order to avoid annoyance etc.


It is quite a large document and I've not read it all yet! (Due to the types of noise nuisance I usually assess for in my job is nothing to do with event noise (shame) ).



With the above standard it is important to use it properly as a lot of the levels advised are sound levels over the whole night time period or daytime period which of course are not going to be hugely related to our industry and the document makes this known to its readers.


I don't have the WHO Guidelines in front of me to quote from, but on pages xii and xiii in the executive summary it basically says that if there noise has a large amount of low frequency content then it is likely that disturbance will happen at lower sound levels. Also if the type of noise is not a constant noise or intermittent in its style then the standard day-time or night time LAeq values are not a sensible thing to use.

It's important to take into account the Lmax values and the number of times the max values occur.


Badly explained, but I hope it makes some sense!




Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.