Last updated on August 23rd, 2021 at 04:15 pm
Noise-induced hearing loss is common in agricultural work. In fact, agriculture is listed in the top 3 occupations that cause hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and can lead to a diminished quality of life. Studies have shown it can contribute to isolationism and depression. Hearing loss is usually gradual and may go unnoticed for several years, and it does not only effect older adults, but effects all ages, including young adults and teens.
Some key indicators of hearing loss include:
- Frequently asking people to repeat things
- Continually turning up the volume on a television or radio
- Hearing ringing in your ears (know as tinnitus)
- Experiencing difficulty with hearing and understanding conversations in noisy or public areas
- Noticing changes in common noises from your work environment (they sound different, distant, or quieter)
For years, loss of hearing has been accepted as part of the job in ranching and farming. AgriSafe believes that hearing loss is preventable, and there are measures that can reduce your risk of hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Prevention Suggestions:
- Talk to your healthcare provider now about hearing loss, and get a hearing baseline exam.
- Ask your healthcare provider to check for and remove wax buildup in your ears.
- Do not put stuff in your ears (such as q-tips or cotton swabs) – while swabs might pull out some wax, they also push wax and dirt deeper into the ear (if necessary, you can try out drops that help soften and dislodge wax buildup).
- Noise is considered dangerous at 85 decibels and above – if you come into contact with sounds that exceed that noise level, it is recommended that you wear hearing protection (these dangerous sound levels include grain dryers, grinders, saws, lawn mowers, and squealing animals).
- Use a sound level meter to check noise in your work areas.
- Use hearing protection equipment. The three main types include: insertable, formable earplugs; insertable, pre-formed earplugs; and ear muffs. NIOSH-approved protection will have a noise reduction rating (NRR) that serves as a guide for what to purchase. Make sure that your protective equipment fits properly and is comfortable.
The best protection is the one that you will wear!
Hearing Loss Prevention Resources
Fact Sheets, Booklets, and Brochures
- Have You Heard? Young Farmers’ Guide for Selecting and Using Hearing Protection
- Hearing Loss Prevention: Adapting the OSHA Hearing Conservation Program to Agriculture
- They’re Your Ears. Protect Them.
- What Did You Say? How to Prevent Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Agriculture
- Increasing the Use of Hearing Protection Among Farmers: Best Practices
- Train the Trainer: Cover Up! Head to Toe Personal Protective Equipment
- Veteran Farmers: Reducing Noise Exposure & Protecting Your Health
- Hearing Disorders and Deafness
- Hearing Loss Among Farmers and Agricultural Workers
- OSHA Youth in Agriculture
Page updated: July 2021