How can you tell when loud noises might harm your hearing? If you need to raise your voice to be heard over the sound, it’s loud enough that you should be wearing hearing protection. And the louder the sound, the shorter the time you can be exposed to it before it starts damaging your hearing.
You can also ask yourself if the noise seems louder than a lawnmower or leaf blower, which usually average around 80 to 85 decibels. If it’s louder than a lawnmower, be careful! Exposure at this level for even two hours can cause damage. Noise levels above 85 decibels is considered the threshold at which one’s hearing is endangered, and where existing hearing loss can be made worse. Very loud environments such as concerts, sports events, or nightclubs can be 100-110 decibels, causing damage in as little as 5 to 15 minutes. [Source: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html]
You’ll need hearing protection at these noise levels, but remember, you can try headphones or earbuds to see what works best.
Many jobs, and safety laws that protect you while working, require hearing protection in loud environments, but hearing protection is recommended in all situations where your hearing is vulnerable.