When comparing the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-run 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 make use of 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 common occupational health problems in the United States. Twenty-two million people are subjected to harmful noise levels at work, and a projected $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a small concern; the personal and social consequences are tremendous.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight careers—or currently work in one—take additional precaution to take care of your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can generate 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce instant and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has demonstrated 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 – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most regularly documented work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use equipment 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 employees 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 agricultural equipment can reach well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine 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 action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, extended subjection to any sound above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume career, 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 periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will allow 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.