Musician claims hearing loss damages against Royal Opera House

A musician has won a landmark case against the Royal Opera House (ROH) for irreversible damage to his hearing.

Chris Goldscheider, a viola player at the ROH in London, experienced severe hearing loss after he had spent an entire performance sitting in front of an 18-musician brass section. He suffered from ‘acoustic shock’ – which has never been recognised by the courts until now.

The sound levels were reportedly above 135 decibels, meaning it exceeded the human pain threshold significantly. Mr Goldscheider suffered symptoms such as tinnitus, hearing loss and dizziness as a result of the experience.

The ROH insisted it had provided all musicians with ear plugs, but musicians have the choice whether or not to wear them. They also claimed they provided regular noise risk training and biannual hearing tests.

However, Mr Goldscheider was successful in his case under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. There has also been a call for workplaces, including theatres and opera houses, to make ear plugs mandatory rather than optional. Employers have been made aware of the risks of the involvement of Health & Safety officers and possible prosecution in any future cases of a similar nature.

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