People working as a bartender or waiter in a music club are often at substantial risk of developing hearing problems. More than half of all employees in music clubs experience some kind of hearing problems. In spite of this risk only a minority uses ear protection at work.
This is the conclusion of the study "Risks of Developing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Employees of Urban Music Clubs" published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 31, 1997.
According to this study - where 31 music clubs took part - the overall sound level of the music clubs ranged from 91.9 to 99.8 dB(A). So all the music clubs consistently exceeded the safety levels of noise exposure, set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, when not using ear protection. OSHA recommends using ear protection when exposed to sound levels of 85 dB(A) or more during a whole working day.
During periods of live music performance the noise exposure was even bigger, ranging from 94.9 to 106.7 dB(A) with peak sound levels as high as 115 dB(A). The sound level varies depending on the genre of music with blues, rock and hip-hop having the highest sound levels.
The study also found that 55 per cent of all employees in the music clubs had experienced a deterioration of their hearing abilities. People working at music clubs with very loud music also experienced symptoms such as temporary tinnitus and temporary hearing deficit. In spite of this, only 16 per cent of the employees reported using hearing protection often.
In the USA, there are about 300,000 bartenders and 1.4 million waiters and waitresses and many of these work in music clubs. Employees in music clubs are especially at risk because they are constantly exposed to loud music and lack quiet periods in which their ears can relax and recover.
Even if you are not working in a music club, it is extremely important to take care of your hearing ability when spending time in thisenvironment.Even short periods of loud music can damage your hearing, so take a break and let your ears relax. Also, consider wearing ear plugs.
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