How Your Career Choice Could Cost You Your Hearing
When comparing the many factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your long-term hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We understand.
And even though we don’t really 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 make use of proper hearing protection and conform to the best practices to conserve your hearing.
As stated by the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most common occupational health problems in the United States. Twenty-two million individuals are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job, and a projected $242 million is expended 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 follow one of the following eight career paths—or currently work in one—take additional safety measures to take care of your hearing.
Below are 8 of the loudest industries.
1. Military – Virtually all firearms can generate 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is considerably above the safe threshold of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate instant and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of warfare add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing problems represent the most widespread injuries for veterans.
2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, exposing performers to hours of continually damaging noise. That explains why research has demonstrated that musicians are four times more likely to experience noise-induced hearing loss—and 57 percent more likely to suffer tinnitus—than other people.
3. Manufacturing – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hearing loss is the most regularly reported work-related condition in manufacturing. Manufacturing equipment can reach decibel levels of well above 100.
4. Carpentry – Much like 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 pilots and airport employees 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 machinery 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 sound 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 risk for developing hearing loss.
Remember, extended exposure to any noise above 85 decibels heightens your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume career, take these three precautions (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
- Use custom earplugs to limit volume
Taking these three easy steps (particularly # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choosing without needing to give up your ability to hear in the future—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.