While considering the several factors 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 understand.
And even though we don’t really think that your ability to hear in the future should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be knowledgeable of the risk—so that you can incorporate proper hearing protection and follow the best habits to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related illnesses in the US. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to detrimental noise levels at work, and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minimal concern; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you choose to follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional safety measures to look after your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can generate 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to create instant and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems constitute the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts 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 – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most frequently reported work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well over 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 about 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 emit 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 encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic breaks from the noise, and to use 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 risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, continuous subjection to any noise above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume occupation, take these three preventative measures (if you can’t stay away from 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
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (especially # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without needing to forfeit your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.