What Jobs Carry A Risk of Hearing Loss?

This blog post has been reviewed and approved by a hearing healthcare professional.

One of the most common risk factors for hearing loss is exposure to loud noises. The louder the noise, and the longer and more often you are exposed to loud noise, the more likely you are to have hearing loss. Unfortunately, there are many workers in certain careers where exposure to loud noise is a part of their jobs. 

 

That is why many jobs are required by law to enforce proper hearing protection for their workers. Or why some jobs require their workers to get their hearing screened regularly.


If you want to know what occupations are most often exposed to loud noise and a higher risk of hearing loss, we listed seven of the most common.

First Responders
Many first responders are exposed to loud noises that exceed 85 dB throughout their day. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are exposed to the ambulance siren which is 120 dB at close range.¹ Sirens are so loud because it needs to alert people in a wide range that they need to get out of the way. The main sources of noise for firefighters are fire sirens, alarms, communication devices, audio equipment in cabs, and engine pumps.
Railway Workers
People working on trains and railways face a similar level of risk as airport workers. Performing maintenance work on trains and tracks puts workers at risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss. This comes from the engines, as well as the sound of jostling metal carts together and on the rails. The noise levels can reach 75–95 dB with peak exposures of 130–140 dB when trains pass by.³
Musicians
Research has shown that listening to music at a live concert or through loudspeakers can have irreversible effects on your hearing. The safest level of sound for noise exposure is less than 70 dBA. Anything above 85 dBA may require hearing protection, to avoid potential hearing loss. The average sound level at a concert is around 120-129 dBA. Even classical musicians are not immune; standing onstage in the musical pit exposes the ear to sounds reaching 115 dB.⁵
Construction Workers & Land Developers
Many people that work in construction and land development suffer from hearing loss after long-term work. Between the bulldozers, jackhammers, sandblasting and trucks backing up, peak noise levels can reach 125 dB.⁴ Like airport workers, you will often see construction workers wearing some kind of hearing protection on or in their ears.
Farmers
We tend to think of farmers in the rural countryside with blue skies tending to their fields, but we don’t always think about the loud machinery they listen to on a daily basis. The sounds from tractors, combines, and rotary cutters can run as loud as 105 dB.⁶
Welders, Blacksmiths & Metalworkers
Metal is a substance that must be molded by force; unfortunately this makes it a noisy job. The sounds of grinding and clanging of metal on metal can reach 100 dB.⁷ Metalworking was also the world’s first loud job on record.
Airport Staff

For aircraft maintenance personnel, baggage handlers, and airline ground control, they are at risk for working in close proximity to loud engines. Jet engines emit sound as loud as 140 dB, which makes this one of the loudest professions in the world!² 


It’s also not just sound that can deteriorate hearing over time for these workers. The pressure of the engines with the force they emit can also contribute to hearing loss. That’s why wearing proper ear protection is a must for these careers.

How To Protect Yourself From Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

The best way to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss is to wear custom noise-protection. They reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss. Wearing hearing protection at all times when exposed to loud noise maximizes their effectiveness. If they are only worn part time, or if the protectors do not fit properly, the effectiveness is greatly reduced.

 

It is good to remember to never drown out loud noise with other noise as this will only add to the noise pollution. You can also get your hearing tested regularly to monitor your hearing and take precautions if your hearing is worsening.


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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 50% of people ages 12 to 35 are at risk of hearing loss due to prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds through headphones. 

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1 Bachenheimer, Barry. “Hearing Loss in EMS.” EMS World. July 20, 2018. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/emsworld/article/220850/hearing-loss-ems

 

2 Mayer, Melissa. “What Is the Decibel Level of a Jet Plane?” Sciencing. May 9, 2018. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://sciencing.com/decibel-level-jet-plane-5375252.html

 

3 Lie, Arve, Marit Skogstad, Torstein Seip Johnsen, Bo Engdahl, Kristian Tambs. “Noise-induced hearing loss in longitudinal study of Norwegian railway workers.” National Library of Medicine. September 1, 2016. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5020756/

 

4 Ellsworth, Spencer. “Heavy Construction Equipment Noise Study Using Dosimetry and Time-Motion Studies.” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/mining/UserFiles/works/pdfs/hcensu.pdf

 

5 “Noise and Music Facts (A Warning).” International Noise Awareness Day. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://noiseawareness.org/info-center/noise-music-facts/

 

6 “Common Noise Levels.” Progressive Agriculture. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://www.progressiveag.org/uploads/documents/noise_graphs.pdf

 

7 “20 High Volume Jobs with Risk of Hearing Loss.” Bloom Hearing Specialists. Accessed on July 19, 2022. https://bloomhearing.com/hearing-tips/20-high-volume-jobs-with-a-risk-of-hearing-loss/