When reviewing the multiple factors 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 while we don’t really think that your ability to hear in the future should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be aware of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and abide by the best habits to maintain your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational ailments in the US. Twenty-two million people are exposed to damaging noise levels at work, and a projected $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minimal problem; the personal and social consequences are significant.
If you decide to pursue one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take extra safety measures to take care of your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safe limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instant and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems represent the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians to hours of continually harmful noise. That explains why research has demonstrated that musicians are four times more likely to develop 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 documented work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – As with manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach hazardous 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 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 farming machinery can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take regular 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 action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, prolonged subjection to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for developing hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume occupation, take these three precautions (if you can’t avoid the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (particularly # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choice without the need to compromise your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.