When reviewing the many factors 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 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 practices to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health problems in the US. Twenty-two million people are exposed 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 modest problem; the personal and social consequences are tremendous.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take extra precaution to protect your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safety threshold 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 problems constitute the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting musicians to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has demonstrated that musicians are four times more likely to experience noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – As reported by 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 over 100.
4. Carpentry – As with manufacturing, carpenters use machinery that can reach damaging decibel levels. A power saw alone can attain 110 dB.
5. Aviation – A jet take-off at 25 meters registers at approximately 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 suffering from hearing loss on the job.
7. Farming – Some tractors and agricultural machinery can reach well over 100 decibels. Agricultural 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 employees at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, prolonged exposure to any noise above 85 decibels enhances your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume profession, take these three precautions (if you can’t avoid the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take regular rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (specifically # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choosing without having to compromise your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.