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Ever worried about noise at work? The CDC reports that hearing loss is one of the most common occupational health problems in the US, and some jobs are far worse than others. Regular exposure to loud noises above 85 decibels can increase your risk of hearing loss. Permanent loss can occur with 15 minutes or more of continuous exposure to noise above 100 decibels. Here is a guide to the top-risk jobs for hearing loss, along with advice and information to counteract the hazards.
Farming and Manufacturing
Far from the rosy ideal of tending cows and picking fruit far away from the din of the city, farming can be a noisy business. Environmental factors are real: a pig’s squeal reaches around 130 decibels! Abattoirs can be especially noisy when slaughtering large numbers of animals. Proper maintenance of machinery is essential to keep them at their regular noise level. Tractors and certain agricultural equipment can produce over 100 decibels. Manufacturing likewise involves large and noisy machinery reaching above 100 decibels, the risk of which is increased by tighter factory spaces and longer hours. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports hearing loss as being the most common work-related ailment in manufacturing.
Construction and Trades
Construction workers also face loud machines such as drills. Trades like carpentry can also, perhaps surprisingly to some people, involve equipment – such as the power saw – which reach above 110 dB. If/when you cannot avoid the source of the noise altogether, wearing hearing protection, increasing your distance from the sound source, and taking periodic breaks are helpful.
Don’t stay near noise when you don’t have to and don’t, tempting though it may be, attempt to drown out the noise with other noises as this will only increase the noise pollution. If you find work ear protection to be inadequate, consider your options by browsing online retailers like RS Components.
“The construction labor force is one of the most under-pressure parts of the US jobs market. The WSJ notes that new construction hires have dropped 107,000 quarter on quarter, yet new listings have risen by 23,000 in the same time. For job security and a sense that there’ll always be something new to be done, there are few sectors better than construction. What’s more, the nature of the American construction job is a lot different from how it might have looked even a couple of decades ago.” – What Does A Modern Career In Construction Look Like?
We all know traffic can be a pain, and traffic workers have an especially hard time with it. Ambulance drivers and paramedics drive in vehicles with sirens that can reach up to 130 decibels. Earplugs can be difficult for them to use, however, as they disrupt vital communication. Flight staff are exposed to up to 150 decibels during take-off which can rupture the eardrum without earplugs.
RPGs, Rallies and Rock ‘n’ Roll
Noise pollution is one of the many dangers of the military, as most firearms go up to 140 Db of noise, not to mention bombs and tanks. These can cause immediate and permanent damage and hearing loss is the most common injury for veterans. Certain sports also come with risks. Racecar driving exposes participants to between 120-140 decibels from the car alone. Then there’s the additional noise of the crowd and the danger of head injury. Live musical concerts are another high-risk area for musicians and music journalists, exposing them to volumes above 110 decibels, especially for poorly regulated venues.
If you’re considering entering any of the above professions or are close to someone who is, be prepared and consider taking a hearing test.