When comparing the several considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your future hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And even though we don’t really think that your future ability to hear should determine your career choice, we do think you should be informed of the risk—so that you can use proper hearing protection and conform to the best habits to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational ailments in the United States. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to damaging noise levels on the job, and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minimal problem; the personal and social consequences are huge.
If you choose to pursue one of the following eight careers—or presently 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 produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the risk. 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, exposing performers to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has shown that musicians are four times more likely to experience noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – According to 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 – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use equipment 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 around 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but pilots and airport personnel 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 machinery can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take regular 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 swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and workers at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained subjection to any sound above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume job, 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 routine rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (specifically # 3) will permit you to pursue the career you prefer without needing to compromise your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.