While evaluating the several factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-term hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And although 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 comply with the best practices to conserve your hearing.
According to the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health problems in the US. Twenty-two million people are subjected to damaging noise levels at work, and an estimated $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minor problem; the personal and social consequences are significant.
If you opt to pursue one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional precaution to look after your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate immediate and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians to hours of continually harmful 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 regularly documented work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing machinery can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach hazardous 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 staff should protect against the noise.
6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire-engine sirens can emit 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 encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take regular 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 action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and workers at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained exposure to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume career, take these three safety measures (if you can’t avoid 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 (particularly # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choice without the need to compromise your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.