Tuesday, June 23, 2015

NIOSH Publication Provides Hearing Protection Guidance to Music Industry

©iStockphoto.com/Andrey Prokhorov
Due to the nature of their profession, musicians and others in the music industry are at risk for developing permanent hearing loss, ringing in the ears and additional hearing disorders from exposure to loud music. To help educate these professionals about such dangers, NIOSH has published a new guidance, “Workplace Solutions: Reducing the Risk ofHearing Disorders Among Musicians.”

NIOSH reports that exposures to noise exceeding 85 decibels more than 8 hours (dBA) are hazardous, and if noise reaches 100 dBA, just 15 minutes of exposure can cause permanent damage. NIOSH’s Chuck Kardous says that sound levels on stage at rock concerts or during orchestral performances can exceed the recommended 85 dBA exposure limit. “It’s important for musicians to be aware of the risk for permanent hearing damage and takes steps, such as those outlined in the Workplace Solutions document, to protect themselves,” Kardous says. 

The guidance provides recommendations based on studies with musicians and music schools, and a health hazard evaluation where NIOSH researchers measured sound levels during school music classes.
Recommendations for employers, music venue operators, schools and colleges include:
  • Consider implementing a hearing conservation program that includes annual testing and training in workplaces that have noise levels exceeding 85 dBA.
  • Encourage participation in educational awareness campaigns on music-induced hearing loss.
  • Increase distances between individuals and instruments when feasible.
  • Conduct regular sound-level assessments.
  • Identify hearing protection solutions that work best for the individual musicians or affected workers.
Recommendations for musicians include:
  • Play music at lower levels during rehearsals whenever possible.
  • Wear hearing protection when appropriate.
  • Have hearing evaluated annually by an experienced audiologist.
  • Give ears some rest; take advantage of breaks in quiet areas when possible.