Man working with machinery

Noise-induced hearing loss does work on your hearing — this is your guide to America’s loudest jobs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise each year. Many people don’t realize they have a hearing loss until it’s too late. Even then, you might not realize that your hearing has gotten markedly worse because you no longer have a reference point to understand what healthy hearing is — and you don’t know what you’re not hearing.

The jobs that can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) aren’t always obvious. Does your job put you at risk (normal conversation = 60 decibels)?

1. Flight crew

Members of flight crews experience up to 130 decibels (dB) of noise during takeoff, which is loud enough to rupture an eardrum. Prolonged exposure — 15 minutes or more — to noise above 100 dB can cause permanent hearing loss.

2. Farmer

Farmers are frequently exposed to excessive noise, ranking among the top three occupations and industries with the highest risk for hearing loss. This occupation works with heavy machinery that puts them at risk from both tools essential to their position and environmental noise (a pig squeal is 130 db).

3. Physical education teacher

We bet you just learned something new! The cumulative noise exposure of ringing bells, slamming lockers, loud announcements, and other random school noises may be putting teachers’ hearing at risk. Teachers are at risk of being exposed to up to 125 dB.

4. Ambulance driver

An ambulance siren at close range is 120 dB, which is loud enough to feel ear pain instantly.

5. Manufacturer or factory worker

Deafening sounds from trucks and machinery pose the risk of noise-induced hearing loss for factory workers. They are susceptible to noises that reach 115 dB.

6. Dentist

The noise produced by a high-speed turbine drill is not only annoying to the patient, but also the dentist! Dentists are at risk of 115 dB during their workday.

7. Rock stars and athletes

Concerts and loud sporting events can emit 110 to 115 dB for three hours or more — but you risk permanent hearing damage with just 15 minutes of exposure.

8. Bouncers and bartenders

Similar to number four, these jobs are high energy and also at a high risk for NIHL.

9. Construction worker

From passing traffic to jackhammers, construction workers at all sorts of sites are subject to a variety of power tools and other sources of loud noise. For instance, a hammer drill is just over 110 dB.

10. Motorcycle rider or courier

The faster you ride, the faster you’re likely to lose your hearing. Going 50 mph exposes ears to 90 dB of noise under the helmet.

If you don’t have these job descriptions, think about when you’re in the same situation. Ever been to a concert? On the runway? Yeah — you’re at risk too.

More About NIHL

NIHL is the most common type of hearing loss that people experience. It accounts for nearly all cases of permanent hearing loss, and it is the result of repeated exposure to loud noises that damage the delicate sensors in the inner ear.

The point at which your hearing might be permanently damaged is 85 dB, for which the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has developed standards to protect employees in noisy work environments, but many of us aren’t aware of when noise is loud enough to cause damage.

Ok, we’ve got your attention. Here’s what you can do. Hearing protection like custom ear plugs can help, but you may already have hearing loss if you’ve been working in one of the above jobs very long. A hearing test can be a great place to start.

Call us today to get your hearing examined — from there we can decide what your specific solution is.

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