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Question for the septuagenarians (That means persons 70 years old and older)

I asked Peter Blood (a respected "cultural journalist" among other things) recently, if he remembers an ENT specialist, or otolaryngologist by the name of Dr Aziz who wrote on the Evening News sometime back in the early to mid 70s, that ALL PANMEN ARE DEAF? He couldn't recall. Who remembers that evening news article?

Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Hinkson, anyone (if you're old enough), do you remember that article? I am not joking, and I am not hallucinating, as I am not under the influence of any intoxicants or hallucinogens

Everybody, all the leaders in the steelband world then, said in unison, that the man was talking nonsense, only to realize now that the noise emitted from a "Small Steelband" exceeds the allowable decibel level of 85 which can cause permanent damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.

As we get into full gear for panorama, has it become necessary for leaders in the steelband world to explore and implement measures to mitigate the damage continued exposure to the high noise levels emitted by steelbands causes to exponents of the art form?

I intend to raise that question with a school steelband, and I intend to collect evidence by initiating a study conducted and verified by HSE professionals with properly calibrated and certified instruments for the benefit of all Panmen.

I solicit this forum's thoughts and input on the subject.



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I can understand the challenges those in the steelband industry face with this health hazard, would OSHA type training be required for Panyard management? The studies and changes will come with a cost, who's footing the bills GOTT, Pan Trinbago or Private industry?

odw, i believe what may be most useful may be a pilot project by an independent body, where data would be collected across a range of categories of steelbands, and the results collated. it would be then up to the individual steel bands to implement measures to protect their own. It may also be wise (probably an oxymoron) for the government to legislate compulsory hearing protection measures for minors, persons under eighteen (18) years old in an effort to preserve the hearing of successive generations who may be attracted to the national instrument.

Take a look at the following youtube video.

Hi All,

I'm following the forum's critical topics but choose to respond to this call for input on a subject that is critical and timely.

Russell Providence (RP) says, "I solicit this forum's thoughts and input on the subject." This topic is very important to all on this forum but its NOT a popular topic. Hearing protection among other things should be mandatory learning for current and future pannist. The owners/managers of steelbands are jointly responsible together with the workers/employees/pannist for ensuring every member's wellbeing through health and safety best practices and safety protocols. Arrangers have a responsibility also because they are part of the leadership of the organization in some bands.

Please find a couple links that I have provided below of local and international research regarding steelpan and hearing loss. Key specifics on environmental concerns incorporating aspects dealing with toxicity from previously used storage containers that are converted into steelpans clearly present genuine concerns for end-user health.

Last summer I discovered some hearing protection for musicians at a location in Toronto. I learned that they carry a line of Custom Ear & Hearing Protection products specifically for musicians. They also have a reduced rate for musicians. Every steelband should act responsibly as employers and invest in health and safety products for its members.

BTW, the topic was presented at ICPTT 2015 and Pan Trinbago (PT) acknowledged the problem of steelpan builders, tuners, players and health-related matters for this critical depreciating human resource.

So health and safety education/environmental education is the first order of business that I teach and here are the links.





PS: I have given my business card to the president of PT when he visited Toronto for Pan Alive 2016 but he has not indicated any interest yet. I'm hoping that when matters of greater importance are resolved PT old or new executive will see it fit to solicit my services.

Very good topic. I do recall Dr. Aziz having clinics to test panmen. He tested mostly the rhythm section people (iron men) and found that some did in fact have lesser hearing than they should. Up to yesterday a former iron man met me and said he is now using hearing aids. He was one who played the iron like many up in the air by their head obviously very close to the ear. Pan sinkers were also affected, one in particular is almost deaf as he does not hear you if you speak normally next to him,unless you raise your voice. Today the sinkers wear ear muffs and plugs. Not all may be affected depending on how you handle the situation. I have not been proven to be going deaf the last time I checked,but continue to monitor. It is something that all musicians, pan sinkers, tuners should pay attention to.

To the gentleman who made reference to the ICPTT 2015, I strongly suspect that the ICPTT 2015 was a colossal waste of time and money sir, and would have been designed specifically as a mechanism:

  1. To misappropriate (steal) public funds.
  2. For Pan Trinbago officials to gallery themselves, while seeking personal gain from, and in front of international guests.
  3. To hoodwink the government of the day, and probably some sponsors who would have been required to underwrite the cost incurred

It may not be inconsiderate for me to conclude that MCJ fka Mike, may have been privy to the deliberations that would have taken place at the ICPTT 2015. It would be interesting hear from him what initiatives were agreed upon to be undertaken, what progress has been reported to date, and what has been implemented coming out of that ICPTT 2015. 


  1. The distance this discussion has gone in less than 48 hours
  2. The diversity of the comments coming forward
  3. The wealth of information presented
  4. The invaluable data shared
  5. The capacity that has been uncovered to collate information required to initiate a preliminary study
  6. What did it cost? Absolutely nothing (F&% All for those who don't mind an expletive or two)

This is why I would have said without fear of contradiction that the former education officer of Pan Trinbago was ineffective as an education officer of the organization, as I see this as a function of the office of the education officer of Pan Trinbago, not the production of a video of a steelband  leader regurgitating partially distorted history related through his lens, facts that have been repeated over and over  and over again, yet not conclusively documented, and cannot be related by any child playing a pan in any school steelband in Trinidad or Tobago. 

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to be introduced online to an environmentalist of Trinidadian decent who may be resident in Canada by a mutual (online) friend who promotes the pan very effectively, comprehensively and aggressively, this Trinidadian/Canadian environmentalist visited Trinidad sometime in the not too distant past while I too was in Trinidad, and we exchanged contacts online and agreed to meet, as I had some concerns with the hazard labels on drums I saw being used in a panyard for making pans, in an environment where in quick succession two women of varying backgrounds, living in close proximity to the location, succumbed to the same type of cancer. This man mamaguyed the shit out of me and wasted much of my precious time. I suspect that he may not have seen any value in collaborating with "Ah Country Bookie Cockroach" on such an important topic, when he may have been a celebrity invited guest at the prestigious ICPTT 2015 which as my deceased mother used to say, "wasn't worth a fart". I have my suspicions why this man may have taken me for a jackass and wasted my time. 

Having cleared my sterile mind this christmas eve morning, I intend to unilaterally undertake the study with interested persons, and if I may, solicit the assistance of persons whose interest may have been stimulated by the discussion I have raised on this forum.



Gerard Clarke, I really do appreciate your memory of Dr Aziz, as it verifies that I am not alone, or quite likely hallucinating in isolation, LMAO. We seem to be smoking and drinking De Same Ting as it relates to Dr. Aziz, LOL. 

On a serious note sir, please verify whether or not it would have been in the early to mid 70s that Dr. Aziz would have conducted his research on noise induced hearing loss among panmen in Trinidad and Tobago. Thank you.

Sorry RP for offending you. We both shared a responsibility to reconnect to discuss the issues. So I apologize for dropping the ball. I lived in Sangre Grande from 1979 to 1986 (Green Acres, Foster Road), and therefore I am also "Ah Country Bookie Cockroach". BTW, I was NOT offered the privilege to stay at the Hyatt Hotel during ICP 2015 nor was my travel expenses covered by the conference. I gained nothing by the opportunity to share my research. So your assessment of me is unfounded. After our connections were established, I returned to Toronto to work and continue university and life got in the way, but if you will like to continue in a positive manner then let bygones be ... Cool!

MC Joseph

PS: I used to visit Cordettes to listen pan.

Dear MCJ (fka Mike),

I am not easily offended sir, I am as tempered (tempering being a heat treatment technique applied to ferrous alloys, such as steel or cast iron, to achieve greater toughness...) as they come. However, I am inclined to call it as I see it, although not usually, but when I do, I take no prisoners, which means that I am ruthlessly aggressive or uncompromising then. Additionally, as i would have stated since coming on to this forum, Dale Carnegie is someone else.

Please accept my humble apologies sir for my brutal description, as I honestly did not remember you by name, and had I, I would not have responded in the manner that I did, or would I have responded at all to your mention of The useless ICPTT 2015, firstly, out of respect for the individual who introduced you to me, and secondly, out of an inferred respect for you and your work, although I would not hesitate to express my disappointment in not having met you when we were supposed to, in an effort to further a mutual concern that may potentially benefit generations to come. I do honestly, and humbly apologize to you sir.

Having said that, I see no reason why we should not collaborate on the issue of "NOISE INDUCED HEARING LOSS AND ITS IMPACT ON PANMEN" with practical input from those who may be suffering from the negative effects of failure to implement measures to mitigate its debilitating effect as shared on this forum, with specify reference to the subject topic, and with the use of available technology to measure, analyze and collect data, and to report on the findings and make recommendations for the benefit of all.

RP, thanks for your humble apology. It is appreciated with warmth. I would be happy to help (collaborate) in any way I can with regards to the issue of "NOISE INDUCED HEARING LOSS AND ITS IMPACT ON PANMEN". Today I'll be offline for the most part as I'll be preparing for guests dropping by this evening but now we have reconnected and I'm ready when you are to proceed with the collaboration. PEACE & LOVE!

MC Joseph

This should not be  a newsflash.

All musicians , especially with today's amplification ,are exposed to hazardous noise levels.

Professional musicians suffer four times more from hearing loss than others.

This is not exclusively a pan problem , it is something that can affect all musicians.

Legendary rockers like Pete Townshend , Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Young and Phil Collins all have hearing issues caused by exposure to loud music.

Obviously , the damage depends on the level of exposure to harmful levels of sound.

Apart from limiting exposure , the other solution is awareness and education.

The good mews is that there are quality  musicians’ ear plugs available now, devices that protect the ears from loud sounds while also allowing the wearers to hear clearly . 

Hearing devices are not too costly , and should be made available to players , especially in large panorama size bands.

This is an important issue , and one of those issues that should be addressed by the organization that considers itself "parent body for steelbands world wide" , Pan Trinbago.

BTW when I worked in industry , there were ear plug dispensers located at entrances to noisy plant areas.

They were disposable , but reusable , so they should not be expensive purchased in bulk.

Great posting , important topic , RP.


We also have to consider the cultural dynamics at play. I’m a realist to some the definition could mean situational in that I’m flexible to adapt to change but also look at a problem at its origins.

One of the things I found starting early in my industry was there were no pre-requisites for the people entering at the operations level. As the technology advanced there was continued documentation, analysis, procedural changes to meet the delivery of services, regulations, the health issues and auditing to ensure everyone was in compliance.

RP states this can be piloted by an independent body, if I’m to look at previous attempts to address health issues affecting panmen and women there was a half hazard attitude towards building an organized structure to ensure the professionals received the maximum/quality health benefits without major cost.

This is not like a Union where the membership fees include health-care coverage. If his target group is performers under 18 years, the process should start with testing their hearing early, monitoring them, providing protective gear with assistance from the state. In a society where every thing is disposable HOW can one instill discipline to produce desired results?

In my community the public school system requires all kids when they start first grade get tested for sight and hearing as part of their admissions policy and continued monitoring throughout their school experience, with pro-active interventions.  


I could see a starting point in Russell's project -- but does he have the time and energy to run the project. He could design his presentation to whatever extent he wants to go to and then start the PRESENTATIONS in some schools that have STEELBANDS. From there he could build MEDIA COVERAGE and attract help from other concerned individuals and eventually reach the PAN YARDS.

People on this forum could contribute some money to buy earplugs and whatever initial equipment Russell wants to add to his arsenal to jump start the idea. This is not exactly my cup of tea -- but I don't mind helping out one way or another!!!


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