Farming: Good For the World, Bad For Your HearingOct 23, 2013
There are millions of farmers in the United States, and they all have one very serious occupational hazard in common – hearing loss. Find how hearing loss affects farmers, and what they can do about it…
When you think of the sounds in a city, you think of cars honking, construction noise, and busses and trains going by. And when you think of the country, you probably imagine the soft babbling of brooks, birds chirping in the trees and the wind whispering in the trees.
Unprotected Ears Can Be Damaged
But that’s not always the case. If you’re a farmer, you don’t have to deal with cars honking and bus tires squealing, but farming isn’t a quiet endeavor. The squeals of animals, the roar of tractors and the uninterrupted din of the grain dryers during harvest season make farming dangerous for your hearing if left unprotected.
Young Farmers With Hearing Loss
It is estimated that over a million farmers in the United States have some degree of hearing impairment as a result of the sounds associated with their work. And while we know that sustained loud noises over time can damage hearing, the sounds associated with farming are so loud that even farmers in their 20’s will feel the effects if they don’t protect their hearing.
Small Farms Are Not Protected
The largest farms in the U.S. have to comply with federal workplace safety regulations, and that includes hearing protection around loud farm machinery. But most farmers are on their own, and have to be aware of the risk and take precautions to protect themselves.
Hearing Loss Across Generations
As farmers and their families over generations have been studied, the effects of farming on unprotected hearing have started to come to light, and many federal agencies and educators are doing what they can to help farmers and their children protect their hearing by wearing earmuffs or ear plugs.
As Loud As a Snowmobile!
Because they are working in a “natural” environment, many people don’t consider the noise associated with farming as a risk. But despite design changes that have made some farm equipment run quieter, many machines – new and old – are still very loud. And hogs, chickens and other livestock packed into barns can make quite a racket. In fact, the sound of a squealing hog is can be as loud as a snowmobile!
Organizations Are Stepping In
4-H programs and Future Farmers Of America have gone online to encourage the next generation of farmers to protect their hearing, with resources about hearing loss and hearing protection available on their websites. Farming tradeshows and conventions always include educators who inform farmers about the threat of hearing loss, and the consequences to the farmer if his or her hearing is left unprotected.
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