Health and safety bans troops from firing mortars during training
Soldiers taking part in training sessions can no longer fire mortars at their full range, as the noise levels break health and safety legislation.
Although troops taking part in mortar training are given protection for their ears, health and safety officers state that they will not ensure complete protection against the noise of the bombs. The limit for sound in the work place is 137 decibels, and firing 81mm mortars 5,000 metres or more exceeds that limit. Currently, soldiers can only fire mortars 2,000 metres during training, using a charge that has been reduced.
Troops in the regular force, and also the Royal Marines and Paras, rely on the use of mortars during combat. Whilst fighting in Afghanistan, 81mm mortar bombs were deployed against the Taliban during a number of operations.
Paul Biddiss, veteran of the Parachute Regiment, argued:
“This is ridiculous. You have to be able to use a weapon system to its maximum capability.”
Although Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary could overrule the decision, he has not yet taken any action. Scientists are currently working on the creation of a mortar system that operates by remote control, so that soldiers get full benefits of training without risk to their hearing; a problem that may have affected more than half the soldiers who served on the front line during the Afghan war.
Although soldiers need thorough training, they have to be protected from harm while doing so, and the use of PPE will be a necessity.