When assessing the multiple considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your future hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And although we don’t really think that your future ability to hear should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be conscious of the risk—so that you can utilize appropriate hearing protection and abide by the best habits to maintain your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational ailments in the US. Twenty-two million people are subjected to hazardous noise levels on the job, and an estimated $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 opt to pursue one of the following eight career paths—or presently work in one—take extra safety measures to look after your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can produce 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is considerably above the safe threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to create immediate and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Rock concerts can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting performers to hours of continuously damaging noise. That explains why research has shown 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 – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most frequently reported work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing devices can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – As with manufacturing, carpenters use machinery 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 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 equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic 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 an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Bear in mind, extended subjection to any sound above 85 decibels enhances your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you end up in a high-volume occupation, take these three safety measures (if you can’t avoid 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 permit you to pursue the career of your choice without having to compromise your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.