There are many factors to consider when choosing a job you love. Maybe you already have been working the career of your dreams for years, but have you ever considered if your job is harming your hearing health?
What is occupational hearing loss?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), occupational hearing loss due to noise exposure is one of the most common work-related afflictions affecting workers within the United States.
Occupational hearing loss is directly related to working conditions and can cause hearing damage, but not discomfort, which can make it difficult to detect.
How to determine whether your working environment is high-risk for hearing damage
According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), noise-induced hearing loss is influenced by two factors: the sound’s loudness and the length of time you listen to said sound. Sounds between 0-70 decibels can safely be listened to for as long as you would like, but sounds above 85 decibels, roughly the sound of heavy traffic, can cause damage within only eight hours.
Obviously, you’re less likely to experience hearing loss in a quiet cubicle than on a construction site. However, in addition to the occupations we’ve previously discussed, there are certain professions that are at a greater risk of experiencing hearing loss, including:
- Delivery couriers
- Truck drivers
Public safety workers
- Police officers
- EMT workers
Music industry workers
- Musicians and sound crews
- Bartenders and nightclub staff
- Construction workers
- Airport ground control staff
- Miners and manufacturing employees
For every five decibels of increased loudness, the amount of time you should be exposed to the noise (unprotected) is decreased by half. For example, you can safely listen to a sound measuring 95 decibels for only two hours. Any other prolonged exposure can seriously injure your hearing.
How can you protect your hearing if you work in a loud environment?
So what are some practical ways you can protect your hearing if you work in one of these environments? Well, there are a few ways.
Wear earplugs or earmuffs
If your work allows (e.g., landscaper, construction worker, air traffic controller) wear earplugs or earmuffs. Earplugs are placed in the ear and fully block the ear canal opening, ultimately reducing noise 15-30 decibels.
Earmuffs go over both ears and must fit tightly to block out any sound entering the ears. Like earplugs, earmuffs can reduce noise levels by 15-30 decibels as well. If you want double the protection, use both simultaneously!
Everyone needs a break, so take frequent breaks from listening to loud sounds or noises. Physically move away from the loud sound if you can or if you cannot, plug your ears with your fingers (e.g., if an emergency vehicle is passing you driving down the street).
Turn down the volume
Keep personal listening devices and phones set to half the volume or less. When driving in the car, keep the speakers low as well as the television volume at home.
Get your hearing tested regularly
Everyone should get their hearing tested no matter what their occupation, but since some jobs pose a greater risk of hearing loss than others, more frequent check-ups are recommended.
If you work in a loud environment or think you may already be exhibiting signs of hearing loss, find a testing clinic near you and schedule a hearing test at Connect Hearing today.