While reviewing the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your continued hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And even though we don’t think that your ability to hear in the future should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be informed 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 issues in the United States. Twenty-two million people are subjected to detrimental noise levels on the job, and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a small problem; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional precaution to look after your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can generate 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is considerably above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continually damaging noise. That explains why research has revealed 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 – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most commonly reported work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach dangerous decibel levels. A power saw alone can attain 110 dB.
5. Aviation – A jet take-off at 25 meters registers at around 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. Agricultural workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic breaks from the noise, and to wear hearing protection.
8. Racing – The sound of a single race car can reach over 120 decibels, and a race in full swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Bear in mind, extended exposure to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume career, take these three safety 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 simple steps (specifically # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without needing to compromise your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.