The use of loud machinery and equipment such as tractors, firearms, chainsaws, radios and tools in the workshop increase the risk of permanent hearing loss for farmers.
Around two-thirds of farmers have a measurable degree of hearing loss. On average hearing loss occurs 10-15 years earlier than the non-agricultural populations.
Prolonged exposure to loud noise will damage the tiny hair cells within the inner ear. These tiny hair cells once damaged will not be replaced and cannot be repaired.
Signs that you may have hearing loss include:
- background noise makes it difficult to hear conversations in crowds or at social events
- you do not always hear the phone ring
- family may complain that the television or radio is too loud but you find it is at a comfortable level for you to hear
- constantly asking others to repeat what they have just said
- you may hear ringing or noises in the ear or head when away from equipment or machinery.
- Ask yourself the question can the task be completed in a way that reduces your exposure to farm noise.
- When purchasing or replacing machinery think about choosing a quieter model.
- Ensure machinery or equipment is maintained with regular checks to ensure it runs as quietly as possible .
- If possible, rearrange work areas to alter your proximity to loud machines or equipment.
- Insulate cabins to further reduce noise.
- Limit the time spent working close to loud machinery. Try rotating work tasks.
- Wear personal hearing protection such as ear plugs or ear muffs.
- Make sure you know the correct way to insert and use earplugs.
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