A new study by The New York Times shows that New Yorkers are being exposed to potentially dangerous sound levels at some of the city's most popular restaurants. The study — which measured sound decibels at 37 restaurants, bars, retailers, and gyms — found that approximately one third of those recorded were borderline dangerous, and many exceeded the legal level at which workers should be allowed to have unprotected ears for more than three and a half hours.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the organization responsible for investigating noise complaints in NYC (mostly from construction sites and factories), requires employers to provide ear protection and hearing tests if the environment hits 85 decibels. If exposed to 90 decibel-noise for more than eight hours, employees are required to wear hearing protection. But many restaurants are surpassing these levels. At the Brooklyn Star, for example, the volume averaged 94 decibels over a 90 minute span. At Beaumarchais in the Meatpacking District, the noise level averaged 99 decibels over 20 minutes, and at one point in the study, it reached 102 decibels.
Many of the restaurants covered in this study had no idea their sound levels were so high, much less dangerous, and owners are taking necessary steps to ensure the safety of employees and guests. A "hearing conservation program" is said to be in the works at Lavo, Catch has installed 1,800 sq. feet of sound paneling, and Andrew Carmellini has installed $10,000 worth of soundproofing at the Dutch.
·Working or Playing Indoors, New Yorkers Face an Unabated Roar [NYT]
[Photo: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times]