When thinking over the several considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-range hearing health is pretty 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 mindful of the risk—so that you can use appropriate hearing protection and follow the best habits to conserve your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health issues in the United States. Twenty-two million workers are exposed 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 minor problem; the personal and social consequences are immense.
If you opt to pursue one of the following eight careers—or currently work in one—take additional safety measures to take care of your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to create immediate and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians 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 from tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most frequently reported work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing machinery can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use machinery that can reach dangerous 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 workers 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 advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic 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 swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, sustained subjection to any sound above 85 decibels enhances 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 occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (specifically # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choice without having to forfeit your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.