November 7, 2022

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UK Hearing Conservation Association Conference – Stigma stopping some musicians from using hearing protection

A stigma around weak hearing is one reason career musicians are reluctant to use devices. 

Dr Samuel Smith, a researcher at the University of Manchester said stigma associated with hearing loss is stopping musicians from using hearing protection. 

Presenting at the inaugural UK Hearing Conservation Association conference, Smith revealed other reasons for low uptake including unpleasant sensation, cost and appearance. 

The consistent use of hearing protection devices among musicians, according to a 2005 study, may be as low as 6%, Couth explained. 

Studies suggest workers in the music sector are more likely to be affected by noise than those working in construction and agriculture. High-profile rock musicians including Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher have recently revealed their hearing loss concerns following a lifetime in the profession. 

For musicians who refer to the hierachy of control, the model suggests turning down the source. However, Couth said this doesn’t sit well in the profession. “If you’re a career musician you can’t neccesarily turn down the source of the sound. Or you can’t tell musicians around you to turn it down”. 

Couth and his team is currently carrying out research using a behavioural framework model which he plans to share data from at next year’s conference.

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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1 year ago

I’ve some personal experience of this, as a mixing desk sound engineer in the past I would wear hearing protection during the other acts other than the one I was contracted to work with, and wear closed cup headphones with good attenuation of outside sound when working. My son was a brass and percussion member of several bands and orchestras in his youth, he wore ear plugs some of the time, but was mercilessly made ‘fun’ of for doing so. His hearing now is at 40 years younger than me only slightly better than mine as a result. This needs… Read more »

Dasha Kormilkina
Dasha Kormilkina
1 year ago

Hello, I am doing a noise assessment which caused several issues along the line for school music service. It is incredibly difficult to select the appropriate hearing protection for musicians as they move around various schools, not always have the best place to perform music lessons also not entirely their fault – primary schools do not have a lot of extra spaces. Also, from the readings i am getting it is quite a different range from 81 dBA for 1-2-1 practices to the same teacher doing a Ceilidh band which is in the range of 90 dBA. Selecting a hearing… Read more »