When evaluating the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-range hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And although we don’t really think that your future ability to hear should govern your career choice, we do think you should be mindful of the risk—so that you can incorporate appropriate hearing protection and conform to the best practices to conserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related ailments in the US. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to harmful noise levels at work, and a projected $242 million is expended annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a small problem; the personal and social consequences are tremendous.
If you decide to pursue one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional precaution to safeguard your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safe limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to create instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the risk. 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, exposing performers to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has demonstrated that musicians are four times more likely to acquire 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 ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach damaging 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 aircraft pilots and airport workers 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 machinery can produce well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are encouraged 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 workers at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained exposure to any sound above 85 decibels enhances 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 periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (particularly # 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 beats wearing hearing aids later.