Preventing hearing injury in the music industry
AuthorMcGinnity, Siobhan Anne
AffiliationAudiology and Speech Pathology
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Siobhan Anne McGinnity
Sound levels in the live music industry have been demonstrated to reach levels capable of causing harm to the auditory system. The body of work presented here aimed to explore ways in which hearing injury can be prevented in the Australian music industry. To do so, multiple stakeholders were engaged, including venue owners, live-music sound engineers, audiologists and manufacturers of hearing protectors for musicians. Four discrete, mixed-methodology studies were conducted to address the topic. Study 1 aimed to investigate the clinical provision of musicians’ hearing protectors (MHPs) by audiologists and manufacturers of MHPs in Australia. Method. Audiologists and manufacturers were asked to complete one of two surveys, investigating the delivery of clinical care for musicians, and recommended processes relating to the manufacture of earplugs. Results. Inconsistencies in the clinical procedures were noted in both the practice of audiological care for musicians, and the recommendations made by manufacturers of MHPs. Study 2 aimed to investigate whether the use of, and satisfaction with, MHPs is influenced by the specific treatment delivered to musicians by audiologists. Method. Musicians rated their satisfaction with the services as delivered across the four treatment conditions. Results. No statistically significant differences across conditions were observed, however, certain aspects of care were perceived positively by musicians, such as the provision of a hearing test. Study 3 aimed to assess the hearing of live music sound engineers and their risk of hearing injury. Method. Participants completed a questionnaire on their hearing health as well as a hearing assessment. Results. Ninety-six percent of sound engineers reported having experienced at least one symptom of hearing injury during or after a work shift in music. Use of hearing protection was low, however, individuals who frequently wore hearing protection had significantly better hearing, particularly in the extended high frequencies. Study 4 aimed to investigate if the use of sound level management software can assist in reducing exposure levels in indoor live music venues. Method. Use of a commercial sound level management system in six indoor live-music venues of Melbourne was trialled. Results. Overall, there was no reduction in mean sound level (LAeq,T), however the number of nights on which extreme volume levels were recorded was reduced. Subjective questionnaires indicated that one-fifth of patrons would prefer lower sound levels than experienced. Overall, the results indicate there is a significant risk of hearing injury to individuals working within and attending live music venues in Australia. Findings indicated that there is a need for greater hearing awareness across all stakeholders. Audiologists would benefit from the development of best-practice guidelines for the care of musicians’ ears, while more broadly, the inclusion of EHF hearing thresholds would benefit in early detection and monitoring of noise-induced hearing loss. Greater research focus and hearing conservation training is needed for both LMSEs and staff in live-music venues, who would benefit from the implementation of strategies to manage venue sound levels in a way that takes into account the sound level preferences of patrons, while minimising the risk of hearing injury for all.
Keywordsmusic; music induced hearing injury; hearing conservation; noise; noise induced hearing loss; hearing protection; audiology
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