Could your job be contributing to your hearing impairments? Excessive noise levels are among the most frequent reasons for hearing loss. Certain professions are simply louder than others, and workers in those fields should be reasonably concerned about their hearing. The CDC estimates that 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise at work and an additional 9 million are at risk for hearing loss for other reasons such as metals and solvents. The best thing that you can do is to become knowledgeable about the risks and have an open conversation with your company.
The likelihood of hearing loss needs to be reduced as best as possible in any job. This is a partial list of particularly noisy careers.
Manufacturing – Manufacturing jobs constitute the greatest numbers of permanent hearing disabilities suffered on the job. Manufacturing positions repeatedly expose workers to equipment and machinery which generates over 90 decibels of noise.
Construction – Construction workers rank next to the highest for permanent hearing losses suffered in the workplace. Equipment used in construction frequently generates noise levels of 90 decibels. A Washington State examination of construction workers found that in spite of being exposed to noise levels exceeding 85 decibels during 70 percent of their workshifts, construction workers only wore ear protectors 20 percent of the time.
DJs, Bartenders and Nightclub Staff – Everyone that works in a nightclub – bartenders, security, wait staff – is at risk, not just the performers. In a controlled research study, noise levels of up to 108 decibels were recorded in popular nightclubs. The average noise level for a typical nightclub outing was 96 decibels which is above the sound level at which employers are required to furnish hearing protection. The study determined that Disc Jockeys are at considerable risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss and sound exposure in nightclubs regularly exceeds safe levels.
Musicians – Across practices, studio recording and live shows, musicians are continually surrounded by sound. The list of renowned musicians with permanent hearing loss or tinnitus keeps growing each and every year. Well-known artists on the current list include Ozzy Osbourne, Neil Young, Phil Collins, George Martin, Brian Wilson, will.i.am, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Orchestra & Band – A study on the noise exposures of classical musicians experienced during both rehearsals and performances found that the brass section averaged 95 decibels while the strings and brass section averaged 90 decibels. Peak volumes were 130 decibels in the percussion and brass sections of the orchestra. A different Swedish research project showed that 59 out of 139 orchestra musicians – 42 percent – had hearing losses higher than that predicted for their ages.
Airport Staff – The sound of a jet engine is one of the loudest auditory occupational hazards, with noise levels at a shocking 140 dB.
Paramedics and Firefighters – All of the sirens whirring add up over time. Numerous research studies have explored the prevalence of hearing disabilities in firefighters and ambulance drivers with most concluding that firefighters suffer increased hearing loss compared to the general public of the same age.
Armed Forces – The number 1 disability amongst US military personnel is hearing loss. Up to a whopping 65 percent of troops returning from combat in Afghanistan suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.
Plumbers – The CDC website states that 48% of plumbers claimed that they had a perceived hearing loss.