Since 2014 the covenant for the prevention of hearing loss in the music sector has been in effect. This covenant applies to a large number of events, pop venues and festivals, and will apply until 2018. It stipulates that actions will be taken to, among others, set maximum noise levels to protect the hearing of attendees. Not all public locations with amplified music, including clubs, discotheques, cafés and schools, are subject to the covenant. At the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, RIVM has developed an advisory report on maximum noise levels at these locations.
It proved impossible to recommend maximum noise levels that are absolutely safe for every individual and therefore do not pose a risk of hearing loss. This is because the degree to which people are sensitive to loud music varies from individual to individual. Furthermore, the total amount of (loud) noise to which people are exposed, apart from music, is not the same for everyone.
Young children are less able to take their own measures to prevent hearing loss. The advisory report therefore distinguishes between maximum noise levels for young children up to and including 13 years (an average of 91 decibels over a quarter of an hour), children aged 14 and 15 (an average of 96 decibels over a quarter of an hour) and people aged 16 and over (an average of 102 decibels over a quarter of an hour).
The recommended maximum noise levels are not guaranteed to be safe for hearing. Therefore, it is important to advise visitors of musical activities on what they can do to reduce the risk of hearing loss themselves. This can be achieved by wearing hearing protection, taking distance from the sound source (speaker) and by taking so-called hearing breaks. If music locations provide noise-free zones and/or hearing protection, visitors can have an influence on the amount of noise to which they are exposed.
The advisory report was drawn up by a working group comprised of Dutch experts in the field of acoustics and causes, consequences and prevention of hearing loss due to loud noise, with a focus on loud music.
The Netherlands has no national legislation or regulations to protect visitors of places of entertainment against hearing loss caused by loud music.