When researching the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-run hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And even though we don’t think that your ability to hear in the future should determine your career choice, we do think you should be mindful of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and conform to the best habits to conserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health issues in the US. Twenty-two million people are exposed to detrimental noise levels on the job, and a projected $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minor problem; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you decide to pursue one of the following eight careers—or currently work in one—take additional safety measures to take care of your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can deliver 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safe threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continually damaging noise. That explains why research has revealed that musicians are four times more likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most commonly documented work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach damaging 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 pilots and airport employees should protect against the noise.
6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire engine sirens can generate 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 produce well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic breaks from the noise, and to wear 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 workers at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Bear in mind, sustained subjection to any noise above 85 decibels increases your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume occupation, take these three safety measures (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
- Take regular rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choice without needing to forfeit your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.