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ENT doctors: Hospitality industry must roll back volume

info ENT doctors Hospitality must turn back the volume knob

With a new law, festival organizers and operators of clubs and nightclubs should be forced to turn their volume down to prevent hearing damage to the audience. This is now also being urged by the Association of Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians. That would mean that the hospitality industry will also have to turn down the music volume.

Hearing damage

“Until now, the hospitality industry has had free rein,” explains Henri Marres, president of the Society for Throat-Nose-Orthalmology. In recent years, agreements have been reached with the Ministry of Health and the industry about an upper limit on the number of decibels to come out of speakers. Because the higher the number of dBs, the greater the risk of hearing damage.


These agreements are set out in a covenant drawn up in 2018. “The big outlier among the signatories to this covenant is the Royal Dutch Hotel and Catering Association,” Marres said. But if there will be a legal standard for the maximum number of decibels, the hospitality industry will also have to adapt.

100 dB, with Earplugs!

Following the covenant, a standard of 103 decibels is now enforced, but this limit assumes that people wear hearing protection. According to the WHO, a maximum of 100 dB is a better upper limit, even with earplugs. 3 decibels less seems little, but in the music world it means a halving of sound. Also according to the president of the ENT association, 100 dB would be a good limit: “The WHO has substantiated that standard well and we as an association also conform to it.”

Legislation to curb loud music may also be in the pipeline at the Ministry of Health. A spokesperson confirmed after reports from the AD, that State Secretary Van Ooijen wants to wait for an opinion from the Health Council on the issue. A reduction of the standard from 103 to 100 decibels will be considered and enshrined in a law. The opinion on it is expected to be released in November.

A Beep In Your Ears

Calvin Eijpe, also known as DJ Fenomeno, does understand the calls for turning back the volume knob, even in the hospitality industry: “It’s simply dangerous when the music is too loud.” He should know, since 5 or 6 years the DJ suffers from tinnitus, a form of hearing damage in which you usually hear a high-pitched beep. “Early in my career, I never handled my ears wisely,” Eijpe continued. “That’s what made it happen, I think.” He has learned to live with it but “in the beginning I had a really hard time with it. I was really wondering: how to continue with my career? My ears were really plugged at first.”

2 Million Dutch have some form of tinnitus

It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of the (Dutch) population suffers from tinnitus. Calvin Eijpe currently uses special earplugs for musicians to protect his hearing. “Before that I also had caps, but I always took them out during the show. I kind of missed the experience. The plugs I now have ensure that I still almost completely get the vibe of the party.”

Royal Hospitality Netherlands against it.

And that experience while going out is exactly why KHN, the trade association for hospitality businesses, is against a legal standard: “In the hospitality industry, turning down the music will be at the expense of the experience. Visitors will then stay away and go to other places to experience loud music.”

Hospitality entrepreneurs

Many hospitality operators NOS spoke to find an upper limit of 100 dB incomprehensible. They say 100 decibels is really too soft: “With this, the experience falls away completely, you should really be able to feel the music,” is their argument. They fear customers will walk away at a lower noise level. In addition, they consider it the audience’s own responsibility to put in earplugs.

50 Percent Less Chance of Hearing Damage

For Chairman Marres of the Society for Ear-Nose-Orthalmology, it’s plain and simple: “From 103 to 100 decibels means 50 percent less chance of hearing damage if you don’t wear earplugs.” Necessary so, according to him, “because many people don’t wear them yet.”

[Source: NOS / Photo: ANP]