Could your job be contributing to your hearing loss? Noise-induced hearing loss is the single most common cause of hearing damage. Some occupations are simply louder than others, and workers in those professions should be reasonably concerned about their hearing.An estimated 30 million workers risk hazardous noise exposure on the job according to the Centers for Disease Control.Employees in high-noise job areas need to equip themselves with the specifics of occupational hearing safety and keep an open conversation with their employers.
All workers should assess their own work environments for high-noise levels, particularly anybody in the following job roles.
DJs and Nightclub Staff – Everyone that works in a nightclub – bartenders, security, wait staff – is at risk, not just the musicians. In a controlled research study, sound levels of up to 108 decibels were recorded in popular nightclubs. The average level for a normal session was 96 decibels which is above the noise level at which the provision of hearing protection is mandatory for employers in industry. The research determined that Disc Jockeys are at sizeable risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss and noise exposure in nightclubs frequently exceeds safe levels.
Construction Workers – The second greatest number of permanent hearing loss disabilities sustained on the job is among construction workers. Construction equipment routinely exposes workers to heavy machinery which produces over 90 decibels of noise. A study of construction workers in WA State showed that construction workers were surrounded by noise measuring 85 decibels or greater in about 70 percent of their shifts, but wore their hearing protectors less than 20% of the time.
Band & Orchestra – Research on the noise exposures of classical musicians encountered during both performances and rehearsals found that the brass section averaged 95 decibels while the strings and brass section averaged 90 decibels. Top volumes were 130 decibels in the brass and percussion sections of the orchestra. Another Swedish research project showed that 59 out of 139 orchestra musicians (42%) had hearing losses higher than that expected for their ages.
Airport Staff – The noise of a jet airplane engine is among the loudest occupational hazards, with sound levels at a shocking 140 decibels.
Firefighters – The many sirens squealing add up over time. Several research studies have investigated the frequency of hearing problems in firefighters and ambulance drivers with most finding that firefighters suffer increased hearing damage relative to the general population of similar age.
Armed Forces – The primary disability amongst US military personnel is hearing loss. Up to a whopping 65 percent of combat troops returning from Afghanistan suffer from noise-induced hearing loss according to the Deafness Research Foundation.
Carpenters – The CDC reports that 44 percent of carpenters reported that they had a perceived hearing loss.
Manufacturing – Manufacturing workers account for the largest numbers of permanent hearing disabilities suffered in the workplace. Manufacturing industries routinely expose employees to machinery and equipment which produces upwards of 90 decibels of noise.
Agriculture – Hearing protection among agricultural and farm workers is uncommon despite fairly consistent exposure to excessive noise. Studies of male farmers observed that by age 30, 25 percent already had a hearing impairment. By age 50, this number rose to half.
Chemicals Industry – Contact with certain substances (especially those containing lead, toluene, n-butyl alcohol and carbon monoxide) has been known to cause increased hearing loss by itself. These particular compounds now known to combine synergistically with noise to cause increased hearing loss.