Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a huge problem in Australia, with an estimated one million employees potentially exposed to hazardous levels of noise in the workplace.
Here we take a look at the top eight noisiest professions. In NSW and Victoria, 85dB is the safe limit given by WorkCover at which workers can complete a full day of work without wearing ear protection. The following industries expose employees to levels of noise well above this safe limit, so ear protection is a must!
The loud roar of machinery in manufacturing plants often exceeds 90 dB, making factory work a serious hearing hazard. Those who work in a bottle plant, for example, are constantly surrounded by the piercing clinking of glass against glass.
Life on a farm isn’t all gurgling streams and chirping birds. There are plenty of noise hazards that can lead to occupational hearing loss in farmers. A tractor produces a sound of up to 112 dB, while a crop-duster can make a noise of up to 116 dB. Even a pen full of squealing pigs can reach 100 dB.
Mines are notoriously loud places, and hearing loss is very common among workers. By the age of 60, 70% of Australian miners have a hearing loss of more than 25 dB, while 25% have hearing loss of more than 40 dB.
4. Airport ground staff
It is absolutely necessary for airport ground staff to wear hearing protection, as standing even 50 metres away from a jet engine exposes you to an ear-shattering 140 dB of noise.
Have you ever left a great concert with your ears ringing? Imagine if you were exposed to that level of noise all the time! Musicians, especially those in rock bands and orchestras, are constantly exposed to dangerous noise levels of up to 110dB. Luckily, special ear plugs are available to soften the sound while maintaining quality.
6. Construction and carpentry
Construction workers and carpenters are amongst those most affected by occupational hearing loss. Loud equipment, long work hours and a lack of hearing protection required by law leads to a lot of young workers suffering irreversible damage to their hearing. The loudest tool used on a construction site is the hammer drill, which registers at an ear-splitting 120dB.
Close combat, gunfire, explosives and low flying aircraft can take their toll on the hearing of military personnel. In the USA, hearing loss is the number one injury among returning veterans, while in Australia almost 80,000 veterans have hearing problems attributable to their time served in the Australian Defence Force.
8. DJs and nightclub staff
The thumping music in a nightclub can reach up to 110dB, which is incredibly dangerous for the bar attendants, DJs and other nightclub employees who are constantly exposed to the noise night after night. The trend of loud music is also spreading to bars and restaurants, where noise levels of up to 90dB are not uncommon.
If you think you might have noise-induced hearing loss, don’t wait for it to get worse. Book an appointment at your local Connect Hearing clinic today.
Do you work in a noisy workplace? Tell us about it below.