While evaluating the several factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-run hearing health is pretty low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.
And even though we don’t think that your future ability to hear should dictate your career choice, we do think you should be informed of the risk—so that you can use appropriate hearing protection and conform to the best practices to preserve your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, work-related hearing loss is one of the most common occupational illnesses in the US. Twenty-two million people are exposed to harmful 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 minimal concern; the personal and social consequences are immense.
If you opt to pursue one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take extra safety measures to safeguard your hearing.
The following are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Practically all firearms can deliver 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is a great deal above the safe threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to create immediate and permanent hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications constitute the most prevalent injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting musicians to hours of continually harmful noise. That explains why research has shown that musicians are four times more likely to experience 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 condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment 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 attain 110 dB.
5. Aviation – A jet take-off at 25 meters registers at around 140-150 decibels. The decibel level decreases as distance increases, but pilots and airport staff should protect against the noise.
6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire engine sirens can emit 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 advised to keep machinery running smoothly, to take routine breaks from the noise, and to wear 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.
Remember, extended subjection to any noise above 85 decibels enhances your risk for developing 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 occasional rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
- Wear custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (especially # 3) will permit you to pursue the career you prefer without needing to forfeit your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.