Know about Farm-Related Hearing Loss (News Release)

Farmers are at increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss. Loud machinery, such as tractors, combines, grinders, power tools, mowers and elevators, are part of their daily work. Sounds from animals, especially in enclosed buildings, often can reach hazardous levels.

The result is that farmers have a higher incidence of hearing loss than people in other occupations. A central Iowa farm health clinic found that 70 percent of farmers given a routine hearing test had below-normal hearing for their age. At least 30 percent suffered hearing loss significant enough to warrant an assistive hearing device.

A common myth is that people who are "used to the noise" or can ignore it won't suffer hearing loss. Without hearing protection, physical damage to the inner ear occurs even when people are able to adjust to noise.

Some hearing loss occurs naturally as part of the aging process. Generally, this does not become severe unless people are continually exposed to excessive noise. Therefore, it is important to avoid loud noises to prevent additional hearing loss.

Farmers, however, often can't avoid noise, nor can they "sound-proof" the equipment they use. Their best option is to wear hearing protection devices, such as hearing muffs or plugs.

For information about how to select the right kind of hearing protection, contact the local extension office. A new SAFE FARM publication, Lend an Ear to Hearing Protection, Pm-1518j, also is available. Single copies of the publication are free.

This news release was distributed by Iowa State University Extension as part of the Safe Farm Program. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Distribution date: October 1993.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More