When most people conjure up an image of a farm, they think idyllic, picturesque and quiet living. But in reality, farms are noisy environments that can damage workers’ hearing. Here’s how to manage farm noises to prevent hearing loss.
Between tractors, combines and farm animals, the farm can be a noisy place to work, and can put workers’ hearing at risk.
For instance, some idling equipment can harm a worker’s hearing if he or she is exposed to it for eight hours without protection.
Hearing damage begins when we are exposed to noises at 85 decibels (dB). Exposure to loud noises — even for a moment — can cause hearing damage that’s severe, or even permanent.
Before we delve into some tips courtesy of our friends at It’s A Noisy Planet, here are some standard decibel measurements for comparison.
Normal conversation: 60 dB
(not loud enough to cause damage)
iPod at maximum volume: 100 dB
(begins causing permanent damage after 15 min)
Thunder clap: 120 dB
(this is 32x louder than a noise at 70 dB!)
On the farm, this translates to:
Tractor (closed cab): 85 decibels
Tractor (without cab): 100 or higher
Grain dryers: 110 db
Tips to manage farm noises and prevent hearing loss
- Replace worn machinery parts. This, and lubricating machine parts, will reduce noise from friction or vibrations.
- Install noise-reducing mufflers. Engines are a great place to install these.
- Place barriers between your workers and the noise. Installing insulated covers on engines, barriers on stationary equipment, and a cab on tractors is a great start.
- Wear ear protection when necessary. If you need to shout over your farm equipment, you should be wearing hearing protection to prevent damage. Any noise that leaves a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears means it is too loud to bear for any length of time without protection.
- Wear hearing protection (earplugs or muffs) around the house first. This way, you can become acquainted with how things sound with them on before you hit the field.
You don’t want to be doing dangerous work without knowing how your protection works. You may miss a cautionary signal.
- Keep children away from noisy areas. Remind your children to play and complete their chores away from loud machinery.
- Post signs in noisy areas. After you identify these areas and place signage near them, arrange for hearing protection to be kept in these areas.Make it a rule for workers and family to wear them within a certain radius of the signage.
Your hearing is too precious to risk losing. Follow these tips on your farm to ensure everyone’s ears remain healthy.