Sound Advice has been produced by a working group of industry stakeholders with support from the Health and Safety Executive. It provides practical guidance on the control of noise in music and entertainment. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to:

  • assess the risks to employees from noise at work
  • take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks
  • provide employees with hearing protection if the noise exposure cannot be reduced enough by using other means
  • make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded
  • provide information, instruction and training, and carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health

The guidance will be of interest to musicians, performers, entertainers and their employers, and others including venue owners, venue designers, promoters, producers, technical staff, safety representatives and self-employed people.

The summary messages and examples on the Sound Advice website are drawn from the detailed recommendations produced by the Music and Entertainment Sector Working Group. The webguide also responds to industry consultation in Autumn 2007, one result of which was that HSE agreed to produce a book version of the detailed guide. The Whole Story part of the web guide presents the same content as the publication Sound advice: Control of noise at work in music and entertainment HSG260 ISBN 978 0 7176 6307 1, but in downloadable, hypertext-linked sound advice notes for ease of web use. However, section and paragraph numbering will differ on account of the slightly different arrangement of the text.

When navigating the website, if you wish to return to the previous page viewed click on the ‘Back’ button.

Letter from David Adams, Chair of the Working Group

This guide contains practical guidelines on the control of noise at work in music and entertainment, including concert halls and theatres, amplified live music venues, pubs/clubs and studios. It has been drafted and supported by representatives from a wide range of music and entertainment sectors in Britain, as well as Environmental Health Officers and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In April 2008 the existing Regulations protecting workers in the music and entertainment sectors from exposure to excessive noise were replaced by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations). For other industries, these Regulations have been in force since April 2006. The European Directive (2003/10/EC) on which the Regulations are based allowed the music and entertainment sectors a two-year transitional period. This recognised that music is unusual as it is noise deliberately created for enjoyment and therefore practical guidelines are necessary to help workers, employers and freelancers in the music and entertainment sectors protect their hearing.

The aim of Sound advice is to help you to control or reduce exposure to noise at work without stopping people from enjoying music, whether you are an employer, freelancer or employee. It is important that you read ‘What you need to know about the Noise Regulations’, which gives an overview of the general requirements, before reading the sector specific recommendations. There is also a book version of this guidance – Sound advice: Control of noise at work in music and entertainment HSG260 ISBN 978 0 7176 6307 1, available from HSE Books.

Sound advice concerns exposure to noise, and therefore takes account of the duration of workers’ exposure and not simply the noise level. It sets out a range of simple and cost effective actions that can reduce workers’ average daily or weekly exposure to noise. Regular, long-term exposure to noise can lead to permanent, incurable hearing damage.

Sound advice does not provide guidance on the law, which can be found in Controlling noise at work: The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 L108 available from HSE Books. Useful general guidance on noise and HSE free leaflets are available from the hse website.

Finally, I would like to thank members of the working group, both past and present, for their hard work in drafting over the last four and a half years and the HSE staff involved.

David Adams
Chair of Music and Entertainment Sector Working Group

Status of Sound Advice book/The Whole Story

This guidance is issued by the Health and Safety Executive. Following the guidance is not compulsory and you are free to take other action. But if you do follow the guidance you will normally be doing enough to comply with the law. Health and safety inspectors seek to secure compliance with the law and may refer to this guidance as illustrating good practice.

List of members of the Working Group


Thanks to Brian Grogan for the original drawings on which the layouts in Sound Advice Note 12 Orchestras, Sound Advice Note 15 Studios, and Sound Advice Notice 17 Marching bands are based.

The tables on typical problems and selecting hearing protection, as well as information on earplugs and earmuffs, in Sound Advice Note 5 Personal hearing Protection are reproduced with the permission of Safety and Health in Arts Production and Entertainment (SHAPE) from Listen while you work: Hearing conservation for the arts 2001.

Useful Terms

  • Noise Regulations
    The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
  • Health Surveillance
    For the purposes of this guidance assessment of the state of aural health as related to exposure to noise.
  • Tinnitus
    Buzzing, ringing or tone in the ear. Temporary tinnitus is a warning , a sign that you got away with it that time.
  • …See full list


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