While reviewing the multiple considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-run hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And even though we don’t really think that your future ability to hear should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be informed of the risk—so that you can incorporate appropriate hearing protection and stick to the best practices to maintain your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most common occupational health issues in the United States. Twenty-two million individuals are subjected to detrimental 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 small concern; the personal and social consequences are huge.
If you choose to follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional safety measures 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 significantly above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, exposing performers to hours of continuously 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 – As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most frequently documented work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – As with manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach dangerous decibel levels. A power saw alone can attain 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 staff 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 equipment can reach well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine breaks from the noise, and to wear hearing protection.
8. Racing – The noise 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, sustained subjection to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume occupation, take these three precautions (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when possible
- Take routine rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (specifically # 3) will allow you to pursue the career you prefer without the need to sacrifice your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.