British Army troops have been restricted in their use of the 81mm mortar due to health and safety concerns. They will now only be allowed to fire the weapon out to a range of 2km during training exercises because firing it at it’s maximum range of 5km produces such loud noise that it is harmful to the troop’s ears.
The weapon produces a 137db noise when fired at maximum range which violates the Noise at Work rules. However, the Army can disregard the rule under operational circumstances which means that in combat the troops will be permitted to fire it at it’s maximum range even though their training of the weapon in this way will be limited.
The decision has been met with mixed responses from former and current soldiers with some branding the decision as ludicrous. However, there is no denying that a number of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans suffer from hearing problems as a result of their service and the Army and MoD have a responsibility to the health of British soldiers.
The MoD issued a statement saying:
We keep our health and safety policies under constant review and are committed to ensuring Service personnel have appropriate protection during both training and operations…Training exercises have been redesigned to maximise the learning experience within noise level restrictions.