BAR staff in Weymouth and Portland’s live music venues may have to wear ear plugs after a council ruling that has been dubbed as ‘health and safety gone mad’.

Officials from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have been visiting the borough’s licensed bars to carry out risk assessments and advise landlords about noise levels.

The noise control measures have been advisory since all landlords received a letter from the council in August 2007.

Landlords and publicans have been told that if the music exceeds 85 decibels that they should be ensuring their staff all wear ear defenders.

Now council staff have been calling in at premises this week to speak to landlords about noise levels.

Steve Clements, who runs the Sailors Return on Weymouth’s harbourside, said: “You can see what legally they are trying to do but I think it is a bit heavy handed.

“It’s just another example of bureaucracy and health and safety gone mad.”

Mr Clements said that his staff do not want to wear the earplugs. He added: “They will have to pull them out all the time just to take an order.”

Barman James Scott, from the Cove House Inn, on Chesil Beach, Portland, said that they thought it was a joke when the council officials visited.

He said: “They are advising that we wear ear plugs if the music is too loud but the thing is here we mostly have folk bands and nothing too loud.

“It’s not like we have raves here.

“Most of the staff don’t feel strongly about needing the earphones and the general feeling is that they are not needed.

“I have to say though that we all do find it rather amusing.

“It’s a step too far really but we are willing to go along with it.”

Despite concerns from the borough’s publicans, chairman of Weymouth Pubwatch and general manager of Rendezvous Keith Treggiden welcomed the move.

He said: “Everyone by now knows that supplying earphones is actually compulsory if music is above a certain decibel. We all discussed it in the last Pubwatch meeting and now all my staff are wearing them.

“It’s just another legislation within the industry that we have all had to bear.

“We either like it or lump it.”

Mr Treggiden said that working in the industry for 21 years has given him hearing problems.

He added: “I wish these rules had been in place back when I started and then I wouldn’t have the trouble that I do now.”

A borough council spokesperson said: “The council has been continuing its programme of working with licensees advising them on matters of health and safety including their responsibilities to staff who work in noisy conditions.

“No responsible licensee would wish to put their staff’s hearing at risk and the council has been advising them on what steps to take to provide protection.”

He added that ear plugs filter out loud noise whilst allowing the wearer to carry on a normal conversation. This protects the hearing of staff working behind a bar where loud music is played constantly.