Army Musicians to wear earplugs -this is unbelievable!

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by floppymute, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. floppymute

    floppymute Member

  2. Rapier

    Rapier Supporting Member

    Well, with some army bands, the audience should . :)
  3. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    It's not really unbelievable. They are right about the levels and the potential damage it can cause. I have my hearing checked every year at work. Last time the nurse noted a significant loss in the mid-frequencies, but I don't get exposed to noise as part of work, only during music. The problem is that I'd find it very difficult to conduct or play with earplugs in, I think. At the moment my hearing is OK but if occupational health notice more deterioration I'll need to think about how to preserve it. Giving up music isn't an option!
  4. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    To be fair there is enough empirical evidence to say playing and listening to brass music does send you deaf. You only have to look as far as our esteemed adjudicators ;)
  5. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    I have lost a fair bit of hearing this way too. Audiometry shows loss very similar to industrial hearing loss, although I have had little exposure due to that sort of cause.

    Interestingly, as we have played in the same band, part of the time, some of it must be YOUR fault, and some of your loss is MY fault, mind you I put most of mine down to percussion, being next to the shed-builders for much of that time! (Euphs & Baritones often have to tolerate crazy volumes from Trombones; and Front row cornets get a lug-hole beating from back row cornets [all depending on band layout of course]; and I reckon they may well get more than their fair share of the highest levels too.)

    As exposure to noise is also time related, as well as volume, then reducing the time of exposure to loud noise will help, therefore wearing protection or using screens in rehearsals is very practical, doing this during performance is much less so, this could work as a suitable compromise for most bands, depending on the situation.

    BTW, lengthy discussion of hearing loss related to playing and how it might apply to non-work environments (ie. amateur bands) has been done before, at GREAT length if anyone wants to talk about it, then read or revive that thread, it is really a different issue to this, this is a very specific situation, these bands have to conduct noise assessments and use appropriate measures to meet the regulations, no choice.
  6. Dave1

    Dave1 Member

    The HSE sets limits as to how much noise a person should be exposed to in an average 8 hour working day. It used to be 85 and 90 dB limits but has now been reduced slightly. These limits are there to say that if you are exposed to this level OVER AN 8 HOUR PERIOD you run significant risk of hearing damage.
    The only way to check this is for individual to wear a logging/profiling noise dosimeter on their person for the working day - which is done in places of work.
    So if a member of the armed forces has worn one of these dosimeters for his working day and including band practice his average level of exposure is greater than 85dB then he needs to be protected. The noise limits are an average over the time NOT JUST REHEARSALS as a rehearsal noise level will obviously be significantly higher than say when he is at lunch or doing other activities.
  7. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    This may be to prevent musicians from suing the MOD for not providing protection for their hearing. There was a court case a couple of years ago where police motocyclists sucessfully sued their employer for hearing loss after not providing hearing protection.
  8. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    Of course, but one method of reducing exposure COULD be for example the use of screens and earplugs during rehearsals, which means the short time during performances that higher exposure is experienced will still not result in OVERALL exposure over the action level - in exactly the same situation where a workman in a factory might need to be protected by enclosing a machine he works on much of the time, but when he is working in an other area say doing maintenance work, a portable version of that machine may be just as loud, but as he will only be using it for a few minutes a day in that situation, an enclosure is not practicable, but as he will only work on it for shorter periods, then that could still come well within the exposure limits overall. That's the reason for assessments, and properly done could highlight better or more flexible way than use of ear plugs, which are in any case the least suitable way of minimising exposure.

    Different situations will call for different approaches. e.g I would imagine exposure outside during parades will be generally a little lower than those indoors too, and a lot of time will be spent standing around and drilling instead of playing only.

    It's a common mistake, assuming certain things are absolute, when there can be and often are more flexible options - that was what the entire Health & Safety at Work Act was all about in the first place when it was designed, but Daily Mail style knocking of " 'elf & Safety." misses that point when those with too little knowledge think they know how to comply with it, and silly stuff such as bans on watering hanging baskets, and stops schoolboys playing conkers results!
  9. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    Whether they sue or not, it's still a legal requirement, and actually has been for some considerable time, just an example of something that has been ignored for to long, in effect giving those exposed in the meantime PLENTY of grounds to sue for any hearing loss incurred in that time!
    Possibly the situation in the case you refer to, as it is an area that has been conveniently "missed" by employers and enforcers alike! The 2005 Regulations expanded Noise in more specific duties in more specific places, but the duty to protect employees has been there since the Act came into force.
  10. Dave1

    Dave1 Member

    And here is another possibility under the control of noise and vibration at work regulations - would or should a percussion player be subject an assessment under this for possible hand arm vibration syndrome ???????????????????
  11. stevo700

    stevo700 New Member

    In a previous employment with a building firm, I visited the REME bandroom at Arborfield to look at pricing a job.
    The room was laid out with oversize stands, which were to protect the front row players from the excessive volume from behind. (As these would be mostly wodwind, I didn't see the problem).
    The screens had proved only partly successful, as had the ear plugs which had been tried previously. The next plan was to install tiered staging, so the sound from behind could travel over the top of those in front. (Presumably to the detriment of the MD's hearing)
    The staging was to be formed of timber framework with ply on top, then carpet to try to negate what would have been a very large soundbox.....
    I left the firm before any tender was awarded, so am unable to confirm whether the work actually went ahead, though I have to say it would have cost a significant sum....
  12. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    Ha ! Ha !

    - Mr Wilx
  13. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

  14. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Here's a novel idea. Get your band to invest (it won't cost much) in a set of 1930s instruments. Those old Boosey Class As and Hawkes Artist's Perfected things still play well if they haven't suffered poor treatment over the years (and sometimes better in tune than modern instruments...). Then teach them to put an appropriately smaller amount of air through those smaller instruments.

    Hey presto - a quieter band that still has character to the sound. Let's abandon this bigger=louder=better arms race that changed the intent of the sound of bands in the 60s and 70s. We'd all feel better for it.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  15. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    Why would any percussion player be subject to these Regulations?

    I have seen some odd percussive effects in my time, but so far nothing that would come close.

    Apart from Vibraphones, what powered machinery do they ever use; & what's the odds that the action level would be exceeded even if they were playing one? Whole body vibration? That needs a pretty rocky stage to play on!

    So, unless a piece calls for chain saw juggling, then I think it's fair to relax on this issue, and worry about how it would be notated, AFTER carrying out a general Risk Assessment first!
  16. floppymute

    floppymute Member

    I'm finding it hard to believe that so many have taken this so seriously. Are the bands honestly expected to maintain musical standards when this kind of 'nannying' is happening?

    Whilst I have sympathy for anyone with hearing loss..and yes, I'm one of them to a slight degree after 25 years as a professional brass teacher..I don't recall any army musician being drafted into the bands these days. They all knew what they were getting into.."if you can't stand the heat" etc.

    Just another example of our 'Health & Safety' nanny state interfering again.

    Rant over :mad:
  17. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    This sort of thing is in use already. Lots of different approaches, but screens are to be seen in musical programmes on TV even, usually more minimal than those that would be used on a daily basis.

    Some interesting examples of implementing this sort of scheme:
    There is also information for Marching Bands too.

    The professional Music world is comparatively "up and running" on this sort of thing. It is typical that some journalist has got hold of something and published it, making it seem like it is something new, when the only thing it illustrates is that we in the Brass Band world haven't a clue what is happenig in the real world!
  18. on_castors

    on_castors Member

    A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.
  19. floppymute

    floppymute Member

    Years of having to deal with ridiculous 'Health & Safety' pronouncements are more my sanity!
  20. waynefiler

    waynefiler Member

    I'm an army musician who has recently got my earplugs and whilst it's proving difficult to get used to them, in the long run it's a good idea. I value my hearing and want to keep it for the rest of my life. My band have the clear sound boards and in my opinion they don't work well enough for them to be fully effective. We also have tiered staging but all that does is direct the sound into the backs of peoples heads.

    I do have reservations about the use of these ear plugs, I am worried that it will affect standards of musicianship amongst the corps. The plugs don't eliminate the sound but reduce the decibels. I have two sets of filters for my plugs which reduce levels by 9db and 15db. It takes the edge off the noises made but it does make it difficult to hear tuning and intonation between section members.

    From my limited experience, these plugs are going to take a bit of getting used to, I can't see them working on parades or small ensembles such as dinner nights when hearing is difficult without plugs, but in confined areas they'll be perfect.

    Once again, I value my hearing and shall be using mine.
    You give tradesmen specialised boots and breathing apparatus along with ear defenders for loud work places... Why not bands?

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