This grouping of extremely varied and miscellaneous entertainment occupations includes work locations such as bars, nightclubs, discotheques, dancehalls, topless bars, go-go clubs, casinos, bingo and gambling parlours, and pool halls, as well as cinema theatres. Occupations include bartenders, waiters, hostess/host, card dealers, bouncers (security personnel), musicians, dancers, strippers and movie projectionists. Hotels and restaurants often have night entertainment venues within them. There are several categories of hazards common to almost all nightlife entertainment workers.
Shiftwork. Entertainment workers such as bartenders may have routine nightshifts, while musicians working in a club may have irregular shifts. Various physiological, psychological and social effects are associated with nightshift or irregular shiftwork. Often bartenders and cocktail waitresses work shifts that are 10 to 14 hours long.
Violence. Workplace violence is a major problem in establishments that serve alcohol, as well as in gambling enterprises. The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health studied homicide rates among workers in the United States during 1980–1989. They found bartenders to be ranked the eighth highest occupational group, with a homicide rate of 2.1 per 100,000, compared to the average homicide rate of 0.7 homicides per 100,000 for all workers. The exchange of money with the public, often working alone or in small numbers and working late at night or early in the morning, as well as working in high-crime areas, were all found to be factors related to the high rate. Preventive measures for lowering the violence rate include increasing the visibility of the workplace, such as by installing better lighting. The amounts of cash on hand should be minimized and signs posted which clearly indicate that little or no cash in on hand. Silent alarms and hidden cameras can be installed and workers can be trained in non-violent response techniques for emergencies, such as robberies. Arrangements can be made for having routine police checks on workers’ safety, and workers may even be provided bullet-proof barriers and vests if needed.
Fire Safety. Many smaller nightclubs, dancehalls, movie theatres and bars may not meet with local assembly, building or fire code requirements. There have been several high-profile fatal fires in urban clubs, which are often more crowded than permissible by law. Adherence to fire and assembly codes, a fire safety and emergency programme and availability of fire extinguishers and training in their use, as well as other emergency procedures, can reduce risks (Malhotra 1984).
Second-hand smoke. In many locations where there is nightlife entertainment, second-hand cigarette smoke is a significant hazard. The risk of lung cancer and heart disease is increased with exposure to cigarette smoke in the workplace (NIOSH 1991). The risk of laryngeal cancer, also associated with tobacco use, is elevated in bartenders and food servers. Often, smaller bars and night entertainment clubs do not have adequate ventilation for cigarette smoke. In many countries, efforts are being made to regulate exposure to second-hand smoke; but such governmental restriction are not universal. Ventilation and air cleaning devices, such as electrostatic precipitators, as well as the restriction of smoking will decrease exposure.
Alcohol and drug abuse. Working in certain occupations has been found to be correlated to increased alcohol consumption, and one suggestive study has found that death from liver cirrhosis, a disease associated with alcohol consumption, is elevated among waiters, bartenders and musicians (Olkinuora 1984). In nightlife entertainment work there is easy access to alcohol and a social pressure to drink. Often there is isolation from a usual homelife because of working during the night shift or because of touring through different locations. Poor management and lack of supervision can contribute to the problem. Performance anxiety (in the case of musicians), or the need to stay awake during night shift, as well as the fact that patrons may be apt to abuse drugs, can also increase the risks for drug abuse among workers in the nightlife environment. The risks for alcohol and drug abuse intervention programmes can be decreased by well-designed training programmes which assist workers dealing with these problems.
Noise. Excessive noise exposure can be a problem in bars and restaurants. While the problem of noise is obvious in discotheques and music clubs which feature excessively high sound levels, noise overexposure can also be a problem in bars and other locations in which there is only pre-recorded or jukebox music, which can also be played very loudly. Sound levels of over 100 decibels (dB) are common in discos (Tan, Tsang and Wong 1990). One survey of 55 nightclubs in New Jersey in the United States revealed noise levels from 90 to 107 dB. Placement of speakers and jukeboxes away from work stations can reduce worker exposure, and acoustic baffling and barriers can also help. In some cases a general reduction in volume may be possible. If possible, wearing ear plugs can reduce worker exposure.
Dermatitis. Nightlife workers share many skin problems with food handlers. Skin infections, such as candidiasis of the hands, can arise from extensive contact with soiled glassware, washing and cleaning fluids and water. Automatic dish- and glass-washing equipment can address this problem. Food sensitivities are also known, such as contact dermatitis in a bartender with a sensitivity to lemon and lime peels (Cardullo, Ruszkowski and Deleo 1989). Bartenders have developed eczema from handling mint. Other specific sensitivities leading to dermatitis have been reported, such as dermatitis in a professional blackjack dealer who developed a sensitivity to chromate salts used in the green dye for the felt on gaming tables (Fisher 1976).
Musculoskeletal problems. Repetitive motion injuries and other problems associated with workplace design can be found among nightlife workers. For example, musicians and dancers are prone to specific musculoskeletal problems, as discussed elsewhere in this chapter. Bartenders who continually wash glassware and card dealers who must shuffle and deal cards for games in casinos have been found to suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. More frequent breaks during shifts, in addition to job and task redesign, may reduce these hazards. Bartenders, cocktail waitresses, casino dealers and food servers often must stand for their entire workshift, which may be 10 to 12 hours long. Excessive standing can result in back strain and other circulatory and musculoskeletal problems. Corrugated rubber floor mats and comfortable, supportive shoes can lessen the strain.
Film projection booths. Projection booths are small and problems of excessive heat can arise. Older film projection booths use a carbon arc light source to project images, while more modern booths employ xenon lamps. In either case, ultraviolet (UV) radiation and ozone gas exposure can occur. Levels of ozone that ranged from 0.01 to 0.7 parts per million have been reported. The ozone is generated by the UV radiation, which ionizes oxygen found in the air. (Maloy 1978). In addition, use of carbon arc light sources is associated with rare earth metal fumes, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, electromagnetic radiation (EMF) and heat exposures. Local exhaust ventilation is required.
Special effects. Many different special effects can be used in clubs and discotheques, including, various smokes and fogs, laser light shows and even pyrotechnics. Adequate training in laser operation and safety and other special effects is necessary. UV light emitted from “black” lights may pose additional hazards, especially to strippers and go-go dancers (Schall et al. 1969). It has been suggested that a glass barrier between the black light and the performers would help decrease the hazards. These effects are described in more detail in other articles in this chapter.