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July 17, 2015

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BBC Proms prompts hearing advice for musicians

With the BBC Proms about to start on 17 July, BOHS, The Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection offers advice to orchestral musicians on how to prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). The advice is based on a research paper published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene involving the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in Australia which has implemented a Hearing Conservation Program. [1]

The dangers of hearing loss for rock musicians are well known, but orchestral musicians and conductors face similar risks. Studies had shown professional musicians are nearly at four times the risk of NIHL as the general population and 57 per cent more likely to develop tinnitus – an incessant ringing in their ears – as a result of the job.[2]

This presents a health and safety challenge peculiar to orchestral musicians and their employers. But orchestras can prevent NIHL by:

  • Having a strategy, which includes noise monitoring, regular data reviews and providing earplugs designed for musicians and acoustic screens
  • Using rostering and seat rotation where possible and reviewing set up/layout
  • Communicating with their employees: having a noise committee, evaluating artistic impact of controls by involving musicians, developing an education package and maintaining an up-to-date hearing evaluation package.

Dr Stephen Dance, a spokesman for the Institute of Acoustics and Reader in Acoustics at London South Bank University, backs the BOHS advice. “At the university we work with the Royal Academy of Music on this issue,” he said. “We also had the help of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. We have found that music exposure can be addressed through education, appropriate information, musical programme management, health surveillance and mitigation measures.

The resounding message is clear – with the right control measures in place, and the backing of key organisations, NIHL can be prevented.

[1] O’Brien, Driscoll and Ackermann 2014, published in The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, vol. 59, no. 3, April 2015

[2] Schink, Kreutz, Busch et al 2014, published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, vol 71, issue. 7, April 2014

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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