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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that drums are very loud instruments, but just exactly how loud are they? It has been determined that exposure to noise is the most common cause of preventable hearing loss experience in the community.
For individuals not experienced with hearing loss it can be very difficult to understand the frustration and difficulties that arise from such an every-day process that we take for granted. A noise injury is mostly acquired gradually as the result of exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time. Repeated or prolonged exposure to loud sounds increases the risk of hearing damage, and the effects are cumulative. Sounds below 75 decibels are unlikely to cause hearing damage, regardless of the duration of exposure. Hearing slowly gets damaged in an almost imperceptible way and it can take many years of exposure for the effected individual to actually take notice. The loss of hearing through exposure to excessive noise in the workplace is a well documented occupational health and safety (OHS) issue.
The main point is that you do not need to be any sort of a noise expert to know if something is noisy. Steps have been taken through OHS legislation and regulations to limit the amount of noise to which workers are exposed in order to minimise the health risks.
Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as supplying ear plugs, ear muffs accompanied by an effective education and training programme.
But note that the use of PPE is acceptable only as an interim measure until noise levels can be reduced or if there is no alternate practicable solution.
High levels of noise exposure have traditionally been discussed in terms of workplace noise exposure, with the hearing loss often being referred to as 'industrial' or 'occupational' deafness. High levels of leisure noise can come from more traditional activities such as motor bike riding, shooting, use of power tools, etc, or from more contemporary sources such as pub bands, concerts and personal stereo players.
In principle the same preventative action should be adopted even though this may at first seem more difficult when operating in a different social situation when compared to the workplace. If you experience tinnitus or ringing in your ears after a particular heavy concert then be warned, your ears are trying to tell you something. This is the full text of the Sound Advice Working Group introduction to its recommendations for controlling noise in the music and entertainment industry.
1.1 Music is perceived as pleasant but can sometimes be loud to produce its effect, while the sound of a jet engine, for example, is regarded as unpleasant. 1.2 The music and entertainment industries are unique in that high noise levels and extremely loud special effects are often regarded as essential elements of an event. 1.3 Reducing noise risks in music and entertainment is not about destroying art, but about protecting people - artists, performers and ancillary workers equally.
1.4 The purpose of this guidance is to provide practical advice on developing noise-control strategies in the music and entertainment industries to prevent or minimise the risk of hearing damage from the performance of both live and recorded music. 1.6 Risk assessments of the work should identify those people who are likely to be at risk. 1.7 Everyone in the production chain has a role to play in managing the noise risks - whether it is the promoter selecting a balanced line-up, a performer working with reduced monitor levels or stagehands using their earplugs.
1.8 The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work, so far as is reasonably practicable. 1.9 The duties in the Noise Regulations are in addition to the general duties set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act).
1.10 This guidance applies to premises where employees or the self-employed are present, where live (whether amplified or not) or recorded music is being played for entertainment purposes at noise levels which will result in performers' or other workers' daily personal noise exposure being likely to exceed the exposure levels in the Noise Regulations.
The Noise Regulations mean operators of entertainment premises must protect their employees' hearing to a higher standard than the 1989 Noise at Work Regulations, which they replace. Employers are required to reduce exposure to noise and provide hearing protection and health surveillance including hearing tests (where appropriate) to employees directly involved with loud noise, such as musicians, DJs and bar staff. One Council has worked hard over the last two years to raise awareness of this change in the law and encourage bars, clubs and theatres to carry out workplace assessments and plan any changes needed to comply with the new Regulations. The Council recognises existing licensed premises may find it difficult to carry out major building modifications immediately, but officers do expect employers to assess how best to protect employees from loud noise and come up with short-, medium- and longer-term solutions.
New businesses will be expected to incorporate noise-control measures during the design stage. The Council wishes to take a staged and proportionate approach to enforcement although it will use statutory powers if employers fail to meet their obligations. 1.14 The Noise Regulations require employers to take specific action at certain action values. 1.17 Look at Useful information and glossary for a table of the actions required based on a comparison of exposure action values and exposure limit values. 1.18 The noise exposure level (often referred to as the 'noise dose') takes account of both the sound pressure level and how long it lasts. 1.19 Each 3 dB added doubles the sound energy (but this is only just noticeable to a listener).
A noise level reduction of 3 dB halves the sound pressure level (and its propensity to damage).
1.20 Halving the noise dose can be achieved either by halving the exposure time, or by halving the noise level, which corresponds to a reduction of 3 dB.
1.22 It is important that people consider noise exposure when not at work because cumulative exposure leads to hearing damage, whether or not it is work-related. Martin first noticed he had a problem when the ringing in his ears after a show never really disappeared, but became a permanent and very annoying feature of life.


For the most part Martin has had to give up live engineering and has had to make a living as a 'system tech' and administrator for a PA rental company. This list is not definitive but indicates the jobs of people working in the music and entertainment sectors that might be affected by loud noise from live or amplified music or special effects.
Frequency analysis: The breakdown of sound into discrete component frequencies, measured in Hertz and usually grouped in bands or octaves. Noise exposure: 'The noise dose', which can be calculated, takes account of the actual volume of sound and how long it continues. The event safety guide - A guide to health, safety and welfare at music and similar events. An Indian-origin audiologist in the US has warned about the impending dangers to hearing because of loud noise.
Kabul: A piercingly loud explosion rocked central Kabul this evening, with an official saying the target was apparently a restaurant popular with foreigners in the Afghan capital. The Mumbai-Gondia Vidarbha Express, which collided with a derailed Mumbai-bound local train on Thursday night near here, came to a halt after a loud noise, according to the passenger Bhagyashri Karewar of the coach S-10.
New York: Engineers have developed a receiver that can detect a weak, fast and randomly occurring signal. Mumbai: The Bombay High Court directed Maharashtra government to take steps to procure 1,843 decibel meters for the police to ensure there is no violation of noise pollution rules during festivals, public addresses, processions and so on. Washington: Scientists have developed a new sensor that can help your smartphone hear voice instructions in loud environments. I conducted some research on my own when I was in high school and found that our drumline was averaging approximately 100-120 decibels of sound.
This is why it is absolutely fundamental for a drummer (or any musician really) to wear earplugs on a regular basis. It only hinders your ability to hear a small degree, but you can train yourself to pay closer attention which essentially cancels out any effect the earplugs might have. In order to prevent hearing loss, people need to be aware of things that can damage their hearing, and learn ways of ensuring their hearing health.
When preventable hearing loss is further coupled to loss due to the ageing process (presbycusis) it is easily understood why hearing loss is more common in the older age groups. The loudness of a sound is measured in decibels which is a non-linear scale used for scientific purposes.
This noise exposure is a function of loudness and time so if you wish to reduce your exposure you must firstly reduce the volume or loudness and then the time.
Noise injury is painless and bloodless and does not rate high on a scale of physical injury such as a broken arm or leg but have no doubt it is a real injury nevertheless. Many workplaces have the potential for a degree of noise exposure, however, some workplaces are identified as posing a particularly high risk for hearing. If the noise level is such that you need to raise your voice to carry on a normal conversation then chances are that it is too noisy. Just as with workplace noise, if you have trouble conversing over the noise level then it is potentially too loud and exposure must be reduced. It may help you to understand why noise control is so important in this industry, and includes information about permanent hearing loss, temporary deafness and tinnitus. High levels of sound are common, for example in bars, nightclubs, orchestras, theatres and recording studios. It will also help performers and other workers and employers meet their legal obligations under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations).
These will include musicians and performers, technical staff and others working directly on the entertainment, but also may include staff involved in work activities connected to the entertainment, for example ushers, security, front of house, bar and catering staff etc, depending on their location and length of time spent in the noisy environment.
The main responsibility rests with the employer, but everyone should help reduce noise exposure and take a range of simple steps to protect themselves and others from the hazards of loud noise or lengthy exposure to noise at work. These general duties extend to the safeguarding of the health and safety, including the risk of hearing damage, of people who are not your employees, such as contractors and members of the public. Anyone whose work may create a noise hazard has a responsibility to themselves and to anyone else who may be affected. Unless stated otherwise, readers should assume that values representing average, typical or representative noise levels have been measured using an A-weighting and values representing peak noise with a C-weighting. However, when considering ways to control noise, low-frequency noise needs to be treated differently to high-frequency noise.
Generally the potential for hearing to be damaged by noise is related to the noise 'dose' a person receives. When 10 dB is added, the energy is increased ten-fold, while adding 20dB is a hundred-fold increase. People often experience temporary deafness after leaving a noisy place such as a night club or a rock concert. It may only be when damage caused by noise over years combines with hearing loss due to ageing that people realise how deaf they have become. He often operated stage monitors with a wide range of performers and show formats, including at festivals where he would act as the 'house' engineer - mixing a number of the bands himself and acting as a 'babysitter' to visiting monitor engineers. Appropriate for selecting suitable hearing protection and designing acoustic control measures. Noise exposure is not the same as sound level, which is the level of noise measured at a particular moment.
According to a new research by Northwestern Medicine scientists, a newly discovered connection from the cochlea to the brain warns of intense incoming noise that causes tissue damage and also hearing loss. The discovery lays the groundwork for a new class of highly sensitive communication receivers and scientific instruments that can extract faint, non-repetitive signals from noise.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said in a recent report that over a billion young people are at risk of permanent hearing loss. Otolaryngologists (ear doctors) recommend limiting the exposure of any noise levels greater than 85 decibels, the longer and louder the exposure, the greater the risk for permanent hearing loss.
For the purposes of looking after your hearing the most important thing to note is that if you need to use a raised voice to communicate or carry on a normal conversation between two people at arms length then the noise level is potentially hazardous and exposure over a significant time could bring problems.
Noise exposure is cumulative over your life-time, meaning that every over exposure adds up a€“ just like too much UV-radiation or exposure to the sun.
This is particularly important if your work requires that you are exposed to this level of noise for significant periods throughout your normal work routine. These regulations set mandated acceptable levels, and the nature of employers' and employees' responsibilities for reducing any exposure above these limits. For this reason controls at the top of the hierarchy are preferable as they remove the hazard and do not rely on changing workplace behaviour for safe working conditions. But you need to look after your hearing so some action must be taken: remove the noise, reduce the volume or remove yourself. There are cases of performers being unable to carry on their profession because of hearing damage as a consequence of their work. It has been produced by a working group of industry stakeholders with the support of the Health and Safety Executive. The Regulations specify the minimum requirements for the protection of workers from the risks to their health and safety arising, or likely to arise, from exposure to noise at work. Employees also have duties under the HSW Act to take care of their own health and safety and that of others whom their work may affect and to co-operate with employers so that they may comply with health and safety legislation. For example, people cannot usually hear bats communicating at very high frequencies or when whales use very low frequencies. The terms dB(A) and dB(C) are not used but where noise has been measured using the C-weighting these are referred to as 'peak'. So the division of the A-weighted measurement into its constituent frequencies (frequency analysis) becomes necessary. Common off-hours exposure to high noise levels may include audio and video equipment (personal car stereos, computer speakers, televisions), concerts, clubs and cinemas, sporting events, power tools and noisy hobbies. This may mean their family complains about the television being too loud, they cannot keep up with conversations in a group, or they have trouble using a telephone. Other rarer conditions include hyperacusis (a general intolerance or oversensitivity to everyday sounds) and diplacusis (a difference in the perception of sound by the ears, either in frequency or time). At the end of each simulation the hearing level undamaged by noise for the age of the person is demonstrated. He eventually plucked up courage to go to his GP, and was diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus and a condition called diplacusis where the two ears hear a given pitch as two distinct tones - definitely not a good attribute for musical work.
Shelly Chadha, prevention of deafness and hearing loss technical officer for WHO, said the danger with smartphones is that many people are listening to music that is simply too loud.
This guidance aims to help prevent damage to the hearing of people working in music and entertainment from loud noise, including music. Hearing damage is permanent, irreversible and causes deafness - hearing aids cannot reverse it. With properly implemented measures, the risk from noise in the workplace and the risk of damage to workers' hearing will be reduced. It supplements the general HSE guidance on the Noise Regulations (L108) Controlling noise at work: The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.
To account for the way that the human ear responds to sound of various frequencies a frequency weighting, known as the A-weighting, is commonly applied when measuring noise. It is also very important, particularly in music and entertainment, when selecting personal hearing protection, to ensure the correct type for protection from the most damaging frequencies identified during a noise risk assessment. In general, an employer needs only to consider the work-related noise exposure when deciding what action to take to control risks. It is a sign that if you continue to be exposed to high levels of noise your hearing could be permanently damaged. Eventually everything becomes muffled and people find it difficult to catch sounds like 't', 'd', and 's', so they confuse similar words. Danish research among symphony orchestras suggests more than 27% of musicians suffer hearing loss, with 24% suffering from tinnitus, 25% from hyperacusis, 12% from distortion and 5% from diplacusis. Although the lower level controls have the potential to be effective, they are less reliable, relying on individual workers to take steps to protect themselves. Performers and other workers in music and entertainment are just as likely to have their hearing permanently damaged as workers in other industries.
The exception is when measuring peak noises, where a C-weighting is applied to ensure that proper account is taken of the sound energy in the peak sound. However the employer needs to consider whether risk-control measures need to be adapted in certain situations, for example if it is known that an employee is exposed to noise during other employment. Permanent hearing damage can be caused immediately by sudden, extremely loud, explosive noises such as caused by pyrotechnics. However, there are other studies which give a range of figures from 10-60% for hearing damage among musicians.



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