While examining the many considerations that go into your career choice, we bet that your continued hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And although 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 make use of appropriate hearing protection and stick to the best habits to preserve your hearing.
As reported by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related illnesses in the United States. Twenty-two million individuals are subjected to hazardous noise levels at work, and a projected $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.
So this isn’t a small concern; 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 take care of your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can deliver 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is significantly above the safe threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to create instantaneous and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the risk. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems represent the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows 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 develop 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 commonly documented work-related illness in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like manufacturing, carpenters use equipment that can reach dangerous decibel levels. A power saw alone can reach 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 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 equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Agricultural workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take regular 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 swing can reach 140. Participants, fans, and workers at racing events are all at an increased risk for developing hearing loss.
Keep in mind, sustained exposure to any noise above 85 decibels increases your risk for developing hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume profession, take these three preventative measures (if you can’t stay away from the source of the noise):
- Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
- Take periodic rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three simple steps (particularly # 3) will permit you to pursue the career of your choice without the need to forfeit your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.