Construction worker wearing earplugs

While researching the many factors that go into your career choice, we bet that your future hearing health is fairly low on the priority list—if it’s there at all. We get it.

And even though 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 utilize appropriate hearing protection and stick to the best habits to preserve your hearing.

According to the CDC, occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent occupational health problems in the US. Twenty-two million workers are subjected to detrimental noise levels on the job, and a projected $242 million is spent annually on worker’s compensation for hearing loss.

So this isn’t a minimal problem; the personal and social consequences are immense.

If you choose to follow one of the following eight careers—or presently work in one—take extra safety measures to take care of your hearing.

Below are 8 of the loudest industries.

1. Military – Virtually all firearms can create 140 decibels (dB) of noise. This is far above the safety limit of 85 dB, and has the potential to generate immediate and irreversible hearing damage. Explosions and other sounds of combat add to the danger. This is why hearing loss and other hearing complications represent the most prevalent injuries for veterans.

2. Music – Live shows can reach over 110 decibels, subjecting musicians 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 regularly documented work-related ailment in manufacturing. Manufacturing machinery can reach decibel levels of well above 100.

4. Carpentry – Similar to manufacturing, carpenters use equipment 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 aircraft pilots and airport workers should protect against the noise.

6. Emergency Response – Ambulance and fire-engine sirens can produce 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 agricultural equipment can produce well over 100 decibels. Farm workers are encouraged to keep machinery running smoothly, to take periodic 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 action can reach 140. Participants, fans, and employees at racing events are all at risk for developing hearing loss.

Remember, continuous exposure to any noise above 85 decibels enhances your risk for acquiring hearing loss. If you find yourself in a high-volume career, take these three safety measures (if you can’t avoid the source of the noise):

  1. Increase your distance from the sound source when feasible
  2. Take routine rest breaks from the sound to limit time of exposure
  3. Use custom earplugs to limit volume

Taking these three easy steps (specifically # 3) will allow you to pursue the career of your choosing without having to compromise your ability to hear later in life—because wearing earplugs now is better than wearing hearing aids later.

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