Musician wins case for hearing damage: Time to sit up and listen
Ian Taylor, Principle noise consultant at Symphotech & Acoustech explores the recent landmark 'acoustic shock’ case and discusses if this is too little too late or a can of worms that should remain firmly closed.
Many of our friends, followers and clients will be more than acutely aware of the news that broke on Wednesday 28 March. A viola player Chris Goldscheider won a landmark High Court judgment against the Royal Opera House (ROH) for a life-changing hearing injury he sustained at a rehearsal of Wagner's Die Walkure in 2012.
In reporting on the case, the BBC commented: “The case has huge implications for the industry and the health and safety of musicians. It is the first time a judge has scrutinised the music industry's legal obligations towards musicians' hearing. The ROH said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the judgment. It is also the first time 'acoustic shock' has been recognised as a condition which can be compensated by a court.” (BBC News, www.bbc.co.uk, 28 March 2018)
In my opinion, this case certainly does have massive ramifications for musicians and performers as well as for the industry as a whole. Since the introduction of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations in 2005, there has been an on-going debate about the word of law, in particular, the words “as far as is reasonably practicable”. There has been a widely held perception that if, as an employee, you are instrumental (pun totally intended) in the delivery of noise i.e. the product, then you surrender your rights to protection from Noise at Work due to the fact that in other industries noise is a by-product, not the actual product.
The landmark ruling cements what many in the industry already believe and have been implementing from the get-go; workers in the entertainment industry, whether they be stage managers, pit crew, monitor technicians, the artist or riggers alike, must be afforded the same level of protection from noise as any other worker in any other industry.
This case has shone a light on this issue within the events industry and we’re pretty sure it won’t be the last case of its kind.
To find out more information on the Noise at Work regulations or events health and safety, get in touch with our team. Symphotech and Acoustech are able to provide full noise assessments, risk assessments, monitoring, consultative advice about Exposure Action Values and suitability of Hearing Protection to event organisers, production companies, and events professionals whose personnel may be subject to exposure to Noise at Work.