When considering 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 get it.
And while we don’t really think that your future ability to hear should govern your career choice, we do think you should be knowledgeable of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and abide by the best habits to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related ailments in the United States. Twenty-two million individuals are exposed to harmful noise levels at work, 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 choose to pursue one of the following eight careers—or currently work in one—take extra precaution to safeguard your hearing.
Here are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Almost all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, exposing musicians to hours of continually harmful 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 – As with 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 approximately 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft pilots and airport personnel 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 suffering from hearing loss on the job.
7. Farming – Some tractors and farming machinery 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 risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained subjection to any sound above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume career, take these three precautions (if you can’t avoid 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 simple steps (particularly # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choosing without having to forfeit your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.