A COMPANY which ran nightclubs in Colchester failed to carry out adequate risk assessments to make sure noise levels were not harming employees’ hearing.
Officers from Colchester Council raised concerns, with the then owners Elysium Leisure Ltd, about the lack of employee noise risk assessments at Qube and Hudson bar in the town.
The council eventually issued improvement notices ordering the company to carry out quality risk assessments and supply them with the information.
Yesterday, at Chelmsford Crown Court, counsel for the company admitted failing to comply with the improvement notices on February 24, 2015.
Although there was some evidence the levels of noise were too high for those subjected to it on a daily basis, and claims not enough was done to mitigate this risk, this was not charged or admitted.
There was also no evidence any staff had been affected or their health and safety at work compromised.
What was admitted were two counts of failing to comply with the improvement notices by failing to make suitable and sufficient assessments of noise for employees at both.
The company, which ran four venues in Colchester, was ordered to pay £4,000 in fines and £6,500 costs.
The court heard the operations manager did not know about the need for risk assessments when he should have.
And when someone was hired to carry them out, they, or he, were not good enough.
Assessments have since been carried out, a director has been on a training course and Recorder Ian Baker made it clear the company had not ignored its duties but had just not done a good enough job in fulfilling them.
Victoria Jempson, prosecuting, told the court the owners of Qube were first contacted in May 2014 and communications went back and forth but by January 2015 the assessments were still not adequate and the notices were issued.
She told the court staff may have been in danger of “tinnitus” or “degradation of hearing” as a result of regular exposure to noise levels and while she cannot say they were there was a danger because the right assessments were not carried out.
Matthew Gowen, mitigating, said: “A failure to put in place a risk assessment is very different to saying there was a risk.
“There was a risk assessment. It was not as good as it needed to be.”
Recorder Baker said: “There is a general duty on any employer to take care of the health and safety of employees.
“There had not been sufficient levels of assessment carried out.
“Individuals working in a nightclub with a high level of noise night after night, common sense suggests it should be assessed.
“This arose against a backdrop of communication between the council and the company in 2014.”
He said the company did not deliberately fail to comply but the problem “came about because of the ignorance on the part of the company directors”.
Recorder Baker took account of the company’s £4million turnover when deciding on the fine.