Are you worried about hearing damage from excessive noise levels at work? Noise-induced hearing loss is the single most common cause of hearing loss. Being concerned about your hearing is a normal response for anyone working at a high-noise profession.The Centers for Disease Control reports that 30 million workers are exposed to harmful noise on the job and an additional 9 million risk hearing loss from other agents such as metals and solvents.Work-related hearing safety is best tackled with facts and an open dialogue between employers and staff. Employees should educate themselves about the risks.
The risk of hearing loss needs to be reduced to the greatest extent possible in any profession. Below is a partial list of particularly noisy jobs.
Manufacturing – The largest number of permanent hearing loss disabilities sustained on the job are in manufacturing. Manufacturing positions repeatedly expose employees to equipment and machinery which generates upwards of 90 decibels of noise.
Construction Workers – Construction workers rank second highest for permanent hearing losses suffered on the job. Construction equipment routinely exposes staff to heavy machinery which generates over 90 decibels of noise. A WA State study of construction workers found that in spite of being exposed to noise levels exceeding 85 decibels during 70 percent of their workshifts, construction workers only wore hearing protection 20% of the time (or less).
Carpenters – The Center for Disease Control web page on Work-Related Hearing Loss reports that 44% of carpenters reported that they had a perceived hearing loss.
Nightclub Staff and DJs – Absolutely everyone that works at a night club – bartenders, security, wait staff – is at risk, not just the performers. In a controlled research study, sound levels of up to 108 decibels were recorded in popular nightclubs. The average noise level for a standard session was 96 decibels which is over the noise level at which the provision of hearing protection is mandatory for employers in industry. The research came to the conclusion that DJs are at substantial risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss and noise exposure in nightclubs regularly surpasses safe levels.
Musicians – Between rehearsals, recordings and concerts, musicians are continually engulfed in sound. The list of famous music artists with permanent hearing impairment or keeps growing each year. Well-known names on the current list include will.i.am, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Band & Orchestra – 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. Peak volumes were 130 decibels in the percussion and brass sections of the orchestra. A different Swedish research project demonstrated that 59 out of 139 orchestra musicians had hearing losses higher than that predicted for their ages.
Airport Staff – The sound of a jet engine is among the loudest auditory occupational hazards, with noise levels at a stunning 140 decibels.
Paramedics and Firefighters – All of the sirens whirring accumulate over time. Numerous studies have explored the frequency of hearing disabilities in firefighters and emergency vehicle drivers with most finding that firefighters experienced increased hearing damage relative to the general population of the same age.
Military – Noise-induced hearing loss is the top disability for United States military personnel. According to the Deafness Research Foundation, over 65% of returning combat troops from Afghanistan suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.