While considering the multiple 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 while we don’t think that your ability to hear in the future should govern your career choice, we do think you should be mindful of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and follow the best habits to conserve your hearing.
According to 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 detrimental noise levels at work, and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minor problem; the personal and social consequences are huge.
If you decide to pursue one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take additional precaution to take care of your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can generate 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 irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent 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 – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most regularly documented work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use equipment 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 approximately 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft pilots and airport staff 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 farming equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine 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.
Remember, sustained subjection to any sound above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume occupation, take these three preventative measures (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (specifically # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without needing to give up your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.