Turn down the volume? That defeats the purpose of a music event

IT’S time to face the music — and turn down the volume.

The Health and Safety Authority yesterday launched a 19-page guidance document called The Noise of Music.

The booklet is aimed at helping workers in the music and entertainment industry reduce the risk to their hearing from working in a noisy environment.

The group advised such workers to protect their hearing by not exposing themselves to “unsafe levels of music”.

The rebellious among you may scoff at the suggestion of an “unsafe” level of music. Surely it’s supposed to be loud?

Indeed the HSA, in its own way, acknowledges this, admitting that in the music and entertainment sector “high volumes and loud special effects are often regarded as essential elements for an enjoyable event”.

Often regarded? Surely high volumes are always regarded as an essential element of an enjoyable music event?

It’s hardly worth your while going to see an AC/DC concert if it comes with an ear health warning or if lead singer Angus Young resorted to playing Back In Black on a nylon-stringed Spanish guitar.

Some bands proudly profess wanting to play music so loud that your ears will bleed. Now, that’s not very sensible but it makes for a hell of a rock and roll concert.

Indeed, most musicians and their employees spend their whole lives in such a setting.

Mick Jagger has been playing Jumpin’ Jack Flash at eardrum-bursting levels since 1968 and he’s not doing too shabby.

However according to senior inspector with the HSA Anne Marie O’Connor such people need to be conscious of the dangers of prolonged exposure to loud music.

“Short-term exposure should not be detrimental to a person’s hearing as long as it is within acceptable parameters. But what about someone who spends a significant proportion of their working lives exposed to loud music?

“Those who work in clubs and concert venues, for example, can face this problem on a daily basis and they need to be conscious of the potential damage to their hearing,” she said.

In fact, there are noise regulations in place for employers to follow, including having to assess the risks to employees from noise at work and to take action to reduce noise exposure.

Apparently, noise-induced hearing loss is the most commonly reported occupational disease in the EU.

Lucky for Mick Jagger that he doesn’t need his ears to read the balance on his bank statements.


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