When researching the several factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-run 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 incorporate proper hearing protection and stick to the best practices to conserve your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health problems in the US. Twenty-two million individuals are exposed to detrimental 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 minimal concern; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight career paths—or presently work in one—take extra precaution to look after your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instant and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems constitute the most prevalent 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 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 frequently reported work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – As with manufacturing, carpenters use machinery that can reach hazardous 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 emit 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 equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take regular 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 an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, prolonged exposure to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume job, take these three preventative measures (if you can’t avoid the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
- Take routine rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will allow you to pursue the career you prefer without having to give up your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.