When evaluating the multiple considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your future hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And although we don’t think that your ability to hear in the future should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be conscious of the risk—so that you can incorporate proper hearing protection and follow the best habits to conserve your hearing.
According to the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health problems in the US. Twenty-two million individuals are subjected to unsafe noise levels on the job, and a projected $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a modest problem; the personal and social consequences are tremendous.
If you decide to pursue one of the following eight careers—or currently work in one—take extra precaution to take care of your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially above the safe limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce immediate 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 widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians to hours of continuously damaging 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 frequently reported work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach damaging 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 workers 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 suffering from hearing loss on the job.
7. Farming – Some tractors and farming equipment can reach well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are encouraged 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 swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, prolonged exposure to any sound above 85 decibels heightens your risk for developing hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume career, 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 periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without the need to forfeit your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.