What do Beyoncé, an ambulance driver, and a lumberjack have in common? They all risk hearing loss from their occupations, if they don’t protect their ears from high levels of sound.
Audiologists say that a single exposure to a severely loud noise could cause permanent hearing loss. Employees working in loud environments should protect their ears, and be tested regularly to ensure their hearing health.
Noise levels are measured in decibels (Db). Hearing experts say that being exposed to noise between 70 to 90 Db can cause eventual damage, while exposure to one loud 150 Db sound (like a gunshot) can cause permanent damage.
Singers and other musicians should wear ear protection that blocks out background noise. Rock concert speakers can produce 110 to 140 Db of sound, the same as a wailing ambulance siren or chainsaw.
Medical Daily reports that the top eight jobs for hearing issues include carpenters (nail guns produce 110 to 140 Db of noise), ambulance drivers, lumbermen, musicians, air traffic controllers (jet engines cause 110 to 140 Db of noise), garbage haulers, construction workers, and landscapers (power mowers emit 85 to 100 Db of noise).
About 48 percent of U.S. adults experience some degree of hearing loss, reports the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
ASHA adds, “Continued exposure to more than 85 Db of noise may cause gradual but permanent damage to hearing. Noise can also hamper job performance, increase fatigue, and cause irritability.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) federally regulates safety in the workplace. For various industries, OSHA requires companies to monitor workplace noise, institute safeguards, test employees’ hearing, provide hearing protection, and maintain records of workplace sound levels and hearing test results.