What is Industrial Deafness? 

For many Americans who have dedicated years to working in noisy environments, industrial deafness may become a concern. Industrial deafness is a form of hearing loss caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of noise in the workplace. 

The human ear is delicate, and prolonged exposure to noise levels exceeding 85 decibels (dB) can lead to damage to the inner ear structures responsible for hearing. In industrial settings, noise levels frequently surpass this threshold, putting workers at risk. 

db meter - industrial deafness

Decibels and Comparison to Everyday Sounds:

Decibels (dB) are used to measure the intensity of sound. A normal conversation typically registers at around 60-70 dB, which is considered safe for prolonged exposure. However, the noise levels in industrial settings can far exceed this. For example, a chainsaw can produce noise levels of up to 110 dB, while a jackhammer can reach 130 dB or higher. Workers in industries such as construction, manufacturing, mining, agriculture etc are often exposed to these high levels of noise, putting them at risk of developing industrial deafness over time.

Signs and Symptoms:

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of industrial deafness is crucial for early intervention and management. Some common indicators include:

  1. Difficulty understanding speech, particularly in noisy environments such as restaurants.
  2. Ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears, known as tinnitus.
  3. Needing to turn up the volume of the TV or radio often.
  4. Withdrawal from conversations or social situations due to difficulty hearing.


If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek a hearing evaluation from a qualified audiologist.


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2023). Occupational Noise Exposure. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/default.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2022). Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/default.html