Farmers experience higher rates of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) beginning at an earlier age than non-farming control subjects. NIHL is a preventable disability. In 1995, the Agricultural Health and Safety Network, a cooperative farm safety program sponsored by the rural municipalities of Saskatchewan and the Centre for Agricultural Medicine, initiated an education and screening program to promote hearing conservation among farm operators. Educational materials designed to raise awareness about hearing conservation were mailed directly to 18,650 farming families. A booklet, Hearing Conservation for Farm Families, was developed for the project. A postage-paid reply card enabled the farm operator and adult family members to request a hearing screening test provided by a qualified health professional close to their home community. Approximately 3,000 requests for hearing screening were received. Due to the wide geographic dispersion of the population, the cooperation of several agencies was critical in the provision of hearing screening to individuals. The protocol was developed cooperatively by the Saskatchewan Hearing Aid Plan (SHAP) and the Centre for Agricultural Medicine. Qualified health professionals from SHAP, local health districts, and the Centre for Agricultural Medicine conducted the hearing screening throughout the province. Results of screening indicated that many of the participants had already incurred significant levels of NIHL. Provision of screening tests gave the health professionals an opportunity to discuss noise exposure, prevention strategies, and the use of personal protective equipment with participants.
Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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