The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the personal risks many workers take simply by performing their jobs. But even before the pandemic, many jobs in America required workers to assume some risk to their personal health and safety in order to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 22 million Americans are exposed to a particular hazard at work: noise.
Noise levels that exceed 85 decibels, or dBA, are considered hazardous and potentially damaging to hearing. For context, a normal conversation is about 60 dBA, and lawnmowers reach about 90 dBA.
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has set two limits on noise in the workplace – by law85 d ion levelBA, OSHA requires employers to reduce noise and implement hearing conservation programs, such as hearing protection. OSHA has set the permissible exposure limit at 90 dBA, which means most workers can avoid adverse effects as long as their work environment does not cross this threshold. Despite these warnings and requirements, there are dozens of jobs where the average eight-hour workday exceeds one or both of these thresholds.
To determine the noisiest jobs, 24/7 Wall St. looked at noise exposure data by occupation in the University of Michigan Occupational Exposure Matrix. Occupations were ranked based on the average level of noise exposure in decibels for all workers over an eight-hour workday.
Nearly half of the jobs that rank among the loudest in America are proproduction occupationincluding machine assemblers, food processing workers, machinists, carpenters, etc. These jobs require the use of large, noisy machinery and the workers are exposed to constant noise pollution throughout the day.
Many of the noisiest jobs in the country have a number of drawbacks in addition to high noise levels. The vast majority of these jobs are not well paid, with an annual median salary below $40,000. These are the lowest paying jobs in America.
A number of the noisiest jobs are also dangerous for other reasons. The same large machinery that produces excessive noise can also be physically dangerous. These are the most dangerous jobs in America.
Click here to see 24 jobs that could ruin your hearing
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