Employees of Britain's bars, pubs and clubs are being exposed to music so loud it is damaging their hearing, a new report claims.

Employees of Britain's bars, pubs and clubs are being exposed to music so loud it is damaging their hearing, a new report claims.

The "Noise Overload" study, published today (Dec. 8) by the Trade Union Congress and the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, reveals that more than 170,000 Britons suffer from deafness, tinnitus and other hearing problems due to unsafe levels of music in the workplace. "Many employers in bars and clubs are currently in breach of the law," says an RNID spokesperson.

Both organizations are encouraging venue owners to provide the estimated 568,000 staffers nationwide with earplugs. "Employers can take simple steps to reduce the damage being done to staff without turning clubs into libraries," says Frances O'Grady, TUC deputy general secretary. "But it is up to local authorities to monitor and enforce the rules put in place to protect employees from noise overload."

Under the U.K. Noise at Work Regulations 1989 act, owners must take action when staffers are exposed to noise levels above 80 decibels on a daily basis. Research undertaken by RNID indicates that noise in some clubs is reaching 110 decibels, comparable to being within two feet of an aircraft taking off.

Tougher European Union regulations on noise in the workplace are due to be introduced in February 2006 but will not be applied to the British leisure industry until 2008.