14 July 2008

Tougher noise guidelines in Germany

Guidelines for noise levels and precautionary measures at music events and venues in Germany have been tightened. The duration of high noise levels is no longer a determining factor in noise protection. If the maximum recommended average noise level of 85 dB is exceeded, the event or venue operator must warn the audience or guests about the risk of hearing loss.

Previously, the maximum allowed duration of an event with average noise levels of 95 dB was two hours. At 102 dB average noise levels, the maximum duration was set at one hour. But since the introduction of the new regulations in November 2007, these time limits no longer apply.

Instead, warnings are required to be issued to the audience or guests any time the average noise level exceeds 85 dB. The warning may be provided through the public address system or in informational pamphlets handed out at the entrance and the ticket office.

At average noise levels exceeding 95 dB, the event operator is required to issue hearing protection and encourage the audience through loudspeaker announcements or illuminated signs visible for all in the venue, to use earplugs.

At no time must peak noise levels exceed 135 dB. The guidelines apply to all events and venues, including concerts, night clubs, theatres, cinemas, etc., and at other public places.

The new guidelines are advisory but would likely be used as the standard in any court case. Music venue operators are strongly advised to adhere to the guidelines and use loudspeakers and sound systems with built-in limiters, limiting maximum noise outputs.

Source: Hörakustik 3/2008