When reviewing 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 get it.
And although we don’t really think that your ability to hear in the future should determine your career choice, we do think you should be aware of the risk—so that you can make use of proper hearing protection and stick 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 ailments in the US. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to detrimental noise levels at work, 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 tremendous.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take extra safety measures to look after your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can deliver 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is considerably above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to create instant and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare 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 musicians to hours of continuously harmful 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 from tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most regularly documented work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use equipment 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 aircraft pilots and airport staff 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 machinery can reach well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic 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 swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and workers at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained subjection to any noise above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up 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 feasible
- Take occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (specifically # 3) will permit you to pursue the career you prefer without needing to sacrifice your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.