While considering the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-term 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 ability to hear in the future should determine your career choice, we do think you should be informed of the risk—so that you can use proper hearing protection and adhere to the best practices to conserve your hearing.
According to the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational illnesses in the US. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to detrimental noise levels at work, and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a modest concern; the personal and social consequences are immense.
If you decide to pursue one of the following eight career paths—or presently work in one—take additional precaution to look after your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safety threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to produce instantaneous and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers 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 commonly reported work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like 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 approximately 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft pilots and airport employees 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 agricultural 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 use 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, continuous exposure to any sound 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 feasible
- Take routine rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (especially # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choice without having to forfeit your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now beats wearing hearing aids later.