Last year I took a short trip to Europe. I had a break in my busy wedding schedule and travelled with a friend to Poland. Whilst I was there, I suffered a prolapsed disc. And let me tell you, for those who have never experienced lower back pain, it is a pain like no other! Having sought medical help, I eventually came to the conclusion that the constant lifting of heavy equipment over the many years I have worked as a mobile DJ has affected my back and left me with a condition that is unlikely to fully heal. Since then I have suffered another couple of bouts of lower back pain, with one episode putting me completely out of action for 2-3 weeks.
I began to wonder, was this a common theme amongst DJs, and has anyone really taken a look at the heath impact of mobile DJing? My suspicions were aroused when I posted an image on Facebook of an anti-fatigue mat that I had purchased to ease the pressure on my lower spine whilst working in the DJ booth. Alongside the image I wrote “tonight’s essential piece of kit” and an explanation of why I was using it. The reaction from other DJs who said they were suffering similar pains was alarming. At least 50% of the comments related to lower back pain they, or other DJs they knew, suffered. It was clear to me that lower back pain amongst mobile DJs is a common problem that no one seems to be addressing. Add to this all the other hazards mobile DJs face whilst on the road, and I realized that more education about staying healthy is urgently needed.
It’s clear to me that many DJs do not really consider their health while working. Health is one of those subjects that only really gets spoken about when something goes wrong, and even then, we have to suffer in silence owing to the lone working nature of mobile DJing. Where does a mobile DJ go to get specific advice about the hazards we all face on the road?
Years ago, when I worked in construction, we used to boast about drilling without using ear protection, hard hats, or gloves. Which was obviously stupid! However, fortunately, tough rules were put in place to prevent this type of dangerous practice and heavy fines are now meted out to those who flout safety rules. The construction industry had to clean up its act. I suggest that the mobile DJ industry now needs to do the same.
In my 20 years of DJing, I have never really had to worry about my health, but as I turned 50, things began to change. I am not aware of any specific advice tailored to the hazards faced by mobile DJs who put their bodies through punishing schedules of extended standing, heavy lifting, long and late working hours, high noise levels, and lack of sleep. Over time our bodies will start to be affected by these things, so as an industry we need to take note. I think that DJ associations around the country, especially, need to start educating their members and also that manufacturers need to educate their users.
One of my personal gripes is the bulky, heavy, and awkward nature of DJ equipment. I don’t think that manufacturers really consider the safe handling of heavy equipment in a way that protects the operator. I also think that inadequate advice is given on how to handle equipment safely.
I often cringe when I see mobile operators handling and moving equipment due to poorly placed handles and a lack of in-built wheels, cushioning, balancing etc. I really think that greater thought needs to be put into heavy equipment, and how manufacturers can design out hazards. Speakers and subs, in particular, come to mind. They are often extremely heavy and come with no lifting advice and very little thought seems to be given to how the handles are placed. This means that to lift them you have to bend in awkward positions which puts a strain on your lower back.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 83, Pages 50-52.