Safety and OSHA News

Metallica drummer uses hearing protection

Do some of your workers scoff at the idea that work-related noise can permanently damage their hearing? Here’s a first-person account of how that can happen from the drummer for heavy-metal band Metallica.

Lars Ulrich says when he first started performing in rock bands 35 years ago, he didn’t wear any hearing protection.

Now the 46-year-old Metallica drummer wears earplugs when he plays. He suffers from tinnitus, the perception of sound where there is none.

Ulrich told CNN, at first, the ringing in his ears was barely noticeable, but over time it got worse.

Tinnitus is often described as high-pitch ringing, but it can also sound like buzzing, whistling, whooshing or clicking.

The most reported cause of tinnitus is excessive loud noise from machinery, lawn equipment, children’s toys or even MP3 players.

Here’s how tinnitus causes phantom noises: The ear is damaged and isn’t picking up a signal and sending it to the brain. The brain compensates and turns up the volume. The person hears static electrical activity in the brain that normally is dampened or suppressed.

Ulrich says he’s kept his tinnitus from becoming worse by using earplugs. However, the ringing in his ears will never completely go away.

He says he’s concerned about young people, those who listen to loud music frequently on MP3 players.

“Once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy,” Ulrich said.

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  1. Union Steelworker says:

    I think that it is great that Lars is speaking out about this subject. It means a great deal more than your mother telling you to turn down your music or someone at work telling you to wear hearing protection. I hope to use this at work to influence co-workers.

  2. Cool or not…PPE for musicians, they need protection too. Perhaps recording industry will push protection for its workers too. Popular musicians bring lots of money to this industry and executives ought behave as if musicians are workers just like the record buying public is. Great to hear Lars is protecting himself, I think Pete Townsend does the same.

  3. You have to use your PPE cool or not. As a mine safety director I am required to provide all kinds of PPE and you would be surprised how many people get upset when you make them protect themselves. It’s crazy. If you want a high quality of life into your golden years quit trying to be tough, take it from Lars and use your PPE!

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