When researching the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-range 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 future ability to hear should determine your career choice, we do think you should be aware of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and follow the best habits to maintain your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational ailments in the US. Twenty-two million people are subjected to damaging noise levels at work, and a projected $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a minimal problem; the personal and social consequences are immense.
If you decide to follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional precaution to take care of your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can generate 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is substantially 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 widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continuously harmful noise. That explains why research has revealed that musicians are four times more likely to acquire 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 documented work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well over 100.
4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use machinery 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 about 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but aircraft 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 agricultural equipment can reach well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine breaks from the noise, and to use 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 risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, continuous subjection to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume job, take these three precautions (if you can’t avoid the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
- Take regular 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 give up your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.