The New York Times has published an in-depth article about the trend for urban shops, restaurants, and clubs to pipe in music that is over 90 decibels. The reason for the loud music is that owners subscribe to research that suggests that loud music attracts younger patrons who drink more than those in quieter settings. While profitable, there may be a cost to the hearing health of workers.
As hearing professionals are aware, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide hearing protection and free hearing exams for environments that exceed 85 decibels for 8 hours; workers are required to wear the hearing protection if the level exceeds 90 decibels.
According to acoustic tests conducted by the Times, several popular restaurants and clubs were recorded in the high 80s and 90-decibel levels. Owners interviewed indicated that they were unaware that they were breaking OSHA standards, and according to the Times, no restaurant or club has ever been fined for violating OSHA noise standards.
The reason for the loud music trend is based on research that indicates it brings in younger patrons who typically spend more for alcohol. Moreover, the research indicates that loud music caused patrons to eat and drink at a faster pace, which caused them to order more drinks, yet not linger at the tables, allowing for more turnover.
If the trend continues and the Times report makes OSHA, patrons, and owners aware of the potential hearing damage, perhaps restaurants and clubs will begin serving earplugs with that plate of Tapas.
SOURCE: The New York Times