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Minimalist Restaurant Design and Excessive Noise: The End of Sociable Eating?

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Minimalist Restaurant Design and Excessive Noise: The End of Sociable Eating?

on 13 Feb 2017 10:32 AM
Blog Category: Noise Blog

A group friends in there late 20s are socialising, eating and drinking together in a bar and restaurant. They are all dressed casual and smiling and laughing with one another.   Summer is often a time for eating out while you enjoy warm nights and long days of sunlight. A time to catch up with friends and family, exchange news and relax over good food and perhaps a glass of Rosé or a cheeky Sauv Blanc. But there is an increasing problem with this scenario, and one which many restaurant and café owners seem oblivious to. As more eating venues pop up with minimalist, sparse and hard surface interiors, maintaining an audible conversation with your friends or family members becomes more and more difficult.  



Sound Levels and Hearing Damage

Noise levels in some restaurants could even be causing permanent damage to the hearing of waiters, cooks, and patrons. To allow for a normal audible conversation to take place, sound levels should be in the range of 55 to 65dB. Factoring in the minimal expected noise levels of a restaurant, this figure might move to approximately 70dB. At this level of noise, patrons and wait staff must raise their voices to communicate clearly. When the noise levels climb to 75dB, it is hard to be heard, while over 85dB, actual damage could be occurring in the hearing capacity of all people in the venue.

The Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007, as well as the National Standard for Occupational Noise [NOHSC: 1007(2000)] state that the noise exposure standard in workplaces is the 8 hour equivalent continuous sound pressure level of 85dB. For each 3dB over the standard limit of 85dB, the safe noise exposure time halves. So even if a restaurant is only 3dB over the limit, it could still have a profound effect on the operation of the business, potentially impacting safe shift lengths for employees working in excessively noisy environments.


To meet their relevant state regulations, venue owners need to provide a safe environment for staff and customers alike. Here are some ways to cut down noise levels in restaurants and cafes: 

It is important to keep in mind that as the restaurant owner you are the curator of your customers’ experience of your venue. Excessive levels of music or background noise can annoy customers and motivate them to avoid your venue in preference of a quieter, more intimate one down the road. 


Need help getting noise levels under control in your venue?

JTA Health, Safety & Noise Specialists have experienced and qualified consultants who can advise you on the most cost-effective ways to lower noise in your restaurant or café. For new café and restaurant construction projects, we offer sound prediction modelling services to identify possible noise issues before they become a headache for you, your staff and new customers. Contact JTA today and find out more. 

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