The HEARing Cooperative Research Centre (HEARing CRC) in Australia has announced its launch of a pilot study to determine how live music venues can be more “hearing friendly.” This study supports the “Make Listening Safe” campaign of the World Health Organization (WHO), which aims to bring attention to the growing risk of hearing loss posed by unsafe listening practices.

The pilot study, part of the HEARing CRC’s HEARsmart™ hearing loss prevention initiative, aims to come up with practical solutions to help live music venues reduce their noise to help protect musicians, patrons, and venue staff from noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.

“In the coming months, HEARing CRC researchers, working with Music Victoria and live music venue owners, will carefully measure noise levels at gigs and gain input from patrons and performers on their experiences,” said HEARing CRC researcher Elizabeth Beach, PhD. “The data will then be analyzed, the main noise-exposure risks identified, and in consultation with venue owners, a practical noise-reduction package will be developed that can be easily implemented in venues across Australia. We don’t know exactly what the HEARsmart noise-reduction package will entail, but some of the likely measures are recommendations on venue modifications to reduce reverberation, providing quieter, chill out spaces for patrons to take a break, or working with the sound engineers to produce sound at a safer level, while still being enjoyable for patrons.”

HEARing CRC was also involved in creating the “Know Your Noise” website, as previously reported in a November 2014 article in The Hearing Review.

According to WHO, 360 million people worldwide have hearing loss, making it the most common global sensory disability. Many of these people could have avoided hearing loss by adopting healthier hearing habits such as reducing their exposure to excessive loud noise, which is a major cause of acquired permanent hearing loss and tinnitus worldwide.

The HEARing CRC’s 2006 Listen HEAR report by Access Economics identified excessive loud noise exposure as a major cause of hearing loss in Australia. While most people are aware of the dangers of excessive noise exposure in the workplace, only recently has leisure-based noise been identified as a significant and growing health problem. Experts at HEARing CRC report that the rising prevalence of noise-inducing hearing loss (NIHL) is in part due to lifestyle choices – spending nights in loud live music venues, or using headphone sound systems at high volumes to blank out the world around us. NIHL may also relate to attitudes – the assumption that hearing loss only affects the elderly.

The HEARing CRC is funded through the Cooperative Research Centres Program, an Australian Government Initiative. The National Acoustic Laboratories is supported by the Office of Hearing Services, Department of Health, Commonwealth of Australia.

Source: HEARing CRC

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