When assessing the multiple factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your future hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And while we don’t think that your future ability to hear should govern your career choice, we do think you should be knowledgeable of the risk—so that you can incorporate proper hearing protection and comply with the best practices to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related ailments in the US. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to harmful noise levels at work, and a projected $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minimal concern; the personal and social consequences are immense.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take additional precaution to look after your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is far above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate immediate and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continuously 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 tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most frequently reported work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use machinery that can reach dangerous decibel levels. A power saw alone can attain 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 personnel 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 farming equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic breaks from the noise, and to use hearing protection.
8. Racing – The sound of a single race car can reach over 120 decibels, and a race in full swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and workers at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, prolonged subjection to any sound above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume occupation, take these three precautions (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
- Take periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (specifically # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without having to forfeit your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.