Shop till your hearing drops

abercrombie-fitch-DublinThe Irish Times today has a very interesting article by Environmental Correspondent Frank McDonald into noise levels in the workplace, specifically clothes shops aimed at the younger population.

The article rightly points to the excessive noise levels experienced by staff and customers in shops such as these and the investigative piece has tracked noise levels in a number of stores – noise levels of 80 to 81 decibels (dB) in Abercrombie Fitch College Green, Dublin, compared with 72dB in River Island on Grafton Street and 69dB in Brown Thomas.

Referring to Abercrombie Fitch’s new outlet on Dublin’s College Green the article says that “The noise level in the store is exceptional by Irish standards. And while customers may spend 15 to 20 minutes there, employees must put up with it for the duration of their working hours”.

The response of some of the companies is worrying also:

  • River Island – “We don’t disclose publicly the information you’ve enquired about”
  • Abercrombie Fitch – “Thank you for reaching out, we do not have a comment on this story.”

The Irish Times references a New York Times report found that Abercrombie Fitch’s “pulsating music hit 88 decibels, just shy of the limit at which workers are required to wear protection [in the US]”. It also said several employees admitted to having frequent headaches.

At Hidden Hearing we have been campaigning about the issue of noise induced hearing loss in the workplace for some time now.

  • In 2011 we warned that that revellers enjoying traditional after work Friday drinks and employees in pubs and nightclubs could be at risk of permanently damaging their hearing.  The warning followed our own research that found the average noise level in Dublin City Centre pubs to be 91.8db – in excess of the recommended safe level of 85db. Our research team visited twenty popular city centre pubs and bars between 10pm and 11:30pm on a Friday night, recording the average noise level in each using a decibel reading device.  The noise level in all 20 pubs sampled exceeded the recommended safe level of 85dB, with over half (12) of the pubs found to have a noise level in excess of 90dB.
  • A survey we did at the 2012 National Ploughing Championships with farmers  revealed that 47% of those who are operating loud machinery or farm vehicles do not wearing hearing protection, 42% said they use it occasionally and 11% said they use it regularly. Tractors, silage blowers, chain-saws, grain dryers, squealing pigs and guns are some of the most typical sources of noise on the farm and lengthy exposure to these high sound levels can result in noise induced hearing loss for farmers of all ages.

Hidden Hearing also carried out an extensive campaign warning against the dangers of excessive volume of personal music devices – we recommend the 60/60 Rule to protect your hearing – that’s listen to your MP3/ personal music device through headphones for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60% of the volume. And we have campaigned for those at music festivals and sporting events (Formula 1 etc) to take better care of their hearing. Sometimes, unfortunately, based on the Irish Times article today, it seems that the warnings are falling on deaf ears.

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