While assessing the several considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-term hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And while we don’t really 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 use appropriate hearing protection and stick to the best practices to maintain your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related health issues in the United States. Twenty-two million individuals are subjected to harmful 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 minor problem; the personal and social consequences are substantial.
If you opt to pursue one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take additional precaution to take care of your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can deliver 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safe limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to create instantaneous and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting musicians to hours of continuously harmful noise. That explains why research has shown that musicians are four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer from tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most regularly documented work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use machinery 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 about 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but pilots and airport workers 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 farming equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Agricultural 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.
Bear in mind, sustained subjection to any noise above 85 decibels increases your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume job, take these three safety measures (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (specifically # 3) will permit you to pursue the career you prefer without having to give up your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.