Tougher guidelines for exposure to noise

"We have five orchestras, and we have a duty of care to protect all of
them," explained Susanna Everton, team manager for BBC occupational
health, during her talk on noise effects on musicians.

New EU directives mean more stringent guidelines are being introduced on the
level of noise to which participants (musicians) and other listeners can be
exposed. During her presentation, Everton illustrated the difference just a few
decibels of sound can make by playing a track at four different levels.

She described how repeated exposure to loud sound or high pressure can
result in sensitivity to sound at around 4KHz, which can lead to the
development of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hyperacusis (where certain sounds
can lead to pain).

Describing her recent research project on the hearing of a group of
orchestral musicians, Everton advised delegates on how to apply noise
assessment and prevention techniques to all workers exposed to noise. This
should include selecting those at risk, applying a hearing health
questionnaire, examining ears, using audiometric tests, discussing the test
results with those participating, and recalling those deemed to be at risk.

Further information

– Reducing noise at work, HSE books,
1998, ISBN 1761511

– Noise at work – guidance on regulations, HMSO, 1989, ISBN 0
11 8855123

– Health surveillance in noisy industries, HSE books, 1995,
ISBN 0 7176 09332

– A Sound Ear, Alison Wright Reid, ABO, 2001, ISBN 0 953678938

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