When evaluating the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your continued hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And while we don’t think that your future ability to hear should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be knowledgeable of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and stick to the best practices to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related health problems in the United States. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to unsafe noise levels on the job, and an estimated $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a small problem; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you choose to follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional safety measures to look after your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instantaneous and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems represent the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting musicians to hours of continually harmful noise. That explains why research has revealed that musicians are four times more likely to experience noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most commonly reported work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach hazardous decibel levels. A power saw alone can reach 110 dB.
5. Aviation – A jet take-off at 25 meters registers at about 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft pilots and airport staff should protect against the noise.
6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire-engine sirens can produce decibel levels of over 130. In fact, a group of firefighters has recently taken legal action against a siren manufacturer after experiencing hearing loss on the job.
7. Farming – Some tractors and agricultural equipment can reach well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine breaks from the noise, and to use hearing protection.
8. Racing – The noise of a single race car can reach over 120 decibels, and a race in full action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, sustained exposure to any sound above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume occupation, take these three precautions (if you can’t avoid the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take regular rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (specifically # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choosing without needing to sacrifice your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.