Special Report

24 Jobs That Could Ruin Your Hearing

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9. Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers
> Average decibel level: 90.0 dBA (right at the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 138,160
> Annual median wage: $23,500

Ushers, lobby attendants, and ticket takers work in one of 10 jobs in which the average decibel level they are exposed to throughout their workday is at or above OSHA’s permissible limit of 90 decibels.

These workers are most commonly employed by movie theaters, concert and performing art venues, and spectator sporting events, all of which can be very loud. For instance, the average NFL game maintains a noise level of about 90 dBA throughout, though several games have hit levels exceeding 130 or even 140 dBA.

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8. Control and valve installers and repairers
> Average decibel level: 90.3 dBA (0.3% higher than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 75,320
> Annual median wage: $50,640

Control and valve installers and repairers work with mechanical regulating and controlling devices, such as hydraulic doors, electric meters, gas regulators, thermostats, safety and flow valves, and other mechanical governors. Hydraulic systems can often produce loud noises, from the mechanisms themselves and from doors loudly slamming shut.

Though the job ranks among the noisiest, control and valve workers have experienced reduced hearing hazards in recent years. OSHA measurements have found the average decibel level has declined from the 1980s and 1990s.

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7. Miscellaneous agricultural workers
> Average decibel level: 90.9 dBA (1.0% higher than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 365,680
> Annual median wage: $25,820

Miscellaneous agricultural workers include equipment operators, crop, nursery and greenhouse laborers, animal workers, and more. These workers are exposed to an average noise level of nearly 91 dBA throughout their day, higher than the permissible exposure limit set by OSHA.

Equipment operators must use noisy equipment like tractors, combines, chainsaws, grain dryers, and more. These can all exceed 90 dBA. Animal workers can experience hearing loss as a result of firearms as well as pig squeals, which can hit 100 dBA.

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6. Forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic
> Average decibel level: 91.0 dBA (1.1% higher than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 125,730
> Annual median wage: $37,690

Metal and plastic forming machine setters, operators and tenders work in one of 11 production occupations that rank among the 24 noisiest jobs in America. People in this occupation work with machines that extrude, draw, forge, and roll metals and plastics.

These workers are often employed in large industrial settings, like iron and steel mills, machine shops, and motor vehicle part manufacturing plants. These places often have loud machinery running throughout the day, producing an average decibel level of 91 dBA — higher than the level at which hearing loss occurs, and louder than the permissible limit set by OSHA.

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5. Tailors, dressmakers, and sewers
> Average decibel level: 91.1 dBA (1.2% higher than the OSHA limit)
> Total employment, 2019: 28,880
> Annual median wage: $31,230

Tailors, dressmakers, and sewers make, alter, and repair garments. Large industrial sewing machines have been found to produce noise around 90 dBA, the maximum permissible level a work environment can average throughout a full eight-hour day.

OSHA found that more than 72% of tailors, dressmakers, and sewers work in a place where the average noise level throughout the workday exceeded 85 dBA, and nearly 65% work in an environment where the noise level averages more than 90 dBA.

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