With harvest season quickly approaching, it’s time to pay attention to a hidden job hazard among farmers: hearing loss.
Decades spent working on and near loud farming equipment – tractors, combines, skid loaders, you name it – leads to many cases of noise-related hearing loss. Nationwide estimates suggest up to three-quarters of the country’s 13 million farmers have some level of hearing loss. One study found that more than 90% of farmers were exposed to extreme noise levels, but most did not treat their hearing loss – only 4% wore hearing aids.
Hearing Associates in Mason City, Iowa reminds you that much of this damage could be prevented or limited with proper hearing protection. Unfortunately, many farmers still don’t take proper precaution when it comes to their hearing. The study found that fewer than half of US farmers wore hearing protection on a daily basis.
How do you know if a noise is too loud to be safe? If a sound makes it impossible to understand someone standing an arm’s length away, you should have hearing protection.
Remember that hearing loss can occur when you’re exposed to sounds of 80 decibels or more over the course of eight hours. Louder sounds don’t take as long to damage hearing. The average conversation is about 60 decibels, while a chicken coop may be about 70 decibels. Here are some “danger zone” noise levels common in a farm setting:
- 80 decibels: Idling tractor; elevators; conveyors
- 90 decibels: Tractor running at 50% load; combine; compressor; grain dryer; pig squeals
- 120 decibels: Tractor operating at full load; older chain saw
- 140 decibels: Gunshot; equipment backfire – this noise level may cause physical pain to ear
The hearing problem among farmers may be worse due to the fact they are excluded from federal regulations designed to protect many workers from workplace hazards – on the farm, an individual decides for themselves if they’ll wear hearing protection.
The good news is that even if you have been subjected to years of loud farm equipment, you can likely improve your listening experiences with the services offered at Hearing Associates. We perform comprehensive hearing tests to examine your situation before making individualized suggestions for treatment.
To learn more about how we can help you treat your hearing loss at one of the Hearing Associates locations in Mason City, northern Iowa and Albert Lea, Minnesota, call us at 888.760.2032 or request an appointment online.