While comparing 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 understand.
And while we don’t 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 utilize appropriate hearing protection and follow the best habits to conserve your hearing.
According to the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health problems in the US. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to hazardous noise levels on the job, and a projected $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a modest problem; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you opt to follow one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take extra precaution to look after your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can deliver 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safe threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate immediate and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems represent the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, exposing performers to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has demonstrated 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 commonly reported work-related condition 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 reach 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 personnel should protect against the noise.
6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire engine sirens can produce 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 produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine 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 workers at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Bear in mind, prolonged subjection to any sound above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up 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 occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (especially # 3) will allow you to pursue the career you prefer without the need to forfeit your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.