When comparing the multiple considerations 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 get it.
And although we don’t really think that your future ability to hear should govern your career choice, we do think you should be conscious of the risk—so that you can utilize proper hearing protection and adhere to the best practices to conserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related illnesses in the United States. Twenty-two million individuals are exposed to unsafe noise levels on the job, and a projected $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a small problem; the personal and social consequences are tremendous.
If you choose to follow one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take additional safety measures to take care of your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safe limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce 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 – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians to hours of continuously harmful 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 tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most commonly reported work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing machinery can reach decibel levels of well above 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 about 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 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 swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Bear in mind, extended exposure 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 precautions (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take routine rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (particularly # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without the need to give up your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.