Could your work be causing hearing damage? Hearing loss has many underlying causes, but the most prevalent continues to be noise-induced hearing loss. Being concerned about your hearing is a normal reaction for anyone employed in a high-noise profession.Approximately 30 million employees risk hazardous noise exposure on the job according to the CDC.Employees in high-noise professions must arm themselves with information about occupational hearing safety and maintain an open dialogue with their employers.
The risk of hearing impairment needs to be mitigated as best as possible in any occupation. This is a starter list of especially noisy careers.
- Orchestra & Band – A study on the noise exposures of classical musicians experienced across both performances and rehearsals found that the brass section averaged 95 decibels while the strings and brass section averaged 90 decibels. Top volumes were 130 decibels in the brass and percussion sections of the orchestra. Another Swedish research project revealed that 59 out of 139 orchestra musicians had hearing losses greater than that predicted for their ages.
- DJs, Bartenders and Nightclub Staff – Absolutely everyone that works at a nightclub – bartenders, security, wait staff – is at risk, not just the musicians. In a controlled study, noise levels of up to 108 decibels were recorded in the nightclubs. The average noise level for a standard nightclub outing was 96 decibels which is over the level at which employers are required to furnish ear protection. The research concluded that DJs are at considerable risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss and noise exposure in nightclubs regularly surpasses safe levels.
- Chemicals Industry – Contact with certain chemical compounds has been known to cause increased hearing loss by itself. These particular chemicals now known to combine with noise resulting in increased hearing loss.
- Construction Workers – The second greatest number of permanent hearing loss disabilities suffered at work is among construction workers. Equipment used in construction frequently operates at 90 decibels or greater. A WA State examination of construction workers discovered that in spite of being exposed to noise levels exceeding 85 decibels during 70 percent of their shifts, construction workers only wore ear protection 20 percent of the time (or less).
- Airport Staff – The sound of an airplane engine is one of the loudest occupational hazards, with sound levels at a stunning 140 dB.
- Firefighters and Paramedics – All those sirens squealing accumulate over time. Several research studies have investigated the frequency of hearing problems in firefighters and ambulance drivers with most finding that firefighters suffer increased hearing loss when compared with the general population of similar age.
- Motorcycle Courier – Research on motorcycle noise, both with an without helmets, under a variety of driving conditions at speeds between 45 mph to 65 documented that the noise measured ranged from 70 to 128 decibels.
- Armed Forces – Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the top disability among United States military personnel. As many as 65 percent of combat troops returning from Afghanistan have noise-induced hearing loss.
- Miners – According to the CDC, 49 percent of male miners will have a hearing impairment before age 50 – versus 9 percent of the general public – increasing to 70 percent by 60 years of age.
- Manufacturing – Manufacturing workers account for the largest numbers of permanent hearing disabilities sustained on the job. Manufacturing industries routinely expose employees to machinery and equipment which produces upwards of 90 decibels of noise over extended periods.