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Farm Noise Emissions During Common Agricultural Activities

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 11(3): 325-334. (doi: 10.13031/2013.18575) @2005
Authors:   J. Depczynski, R. C. Franklin, K. Challinor, W. Williams, L. J. Fragar
Keywords:   Farmers, Farm machinery, Farm worker, Hearing, Noise, Tractor

Noise injury in agriculture is a significant yet often unrecognized problem. Many farmers, farm workers, and family members are exposed to noise levels above recommended levels and have greater hearing loss than their non-farming contemporaries. The aim of this study was to gather up-to-date information on farm noise levels and to enhance the quality of information available to assist farmers in reducing noise exposure and meeting Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) regulations regarding noise management. Farm visits were conducted on 48 agricultural establishments that produce a range of commodities. Noise levels were measured at the ears of operators and bystanders involved in typical activities on farms. The average and peak noise levels were measured for 56 types of machinery or sites of farming activity, totaling 298 separate items and activities. Common noise hazards identified included firearms, tractors without cabs, workshop tools, small motors (e.g., chainsaws, augers, pumps), manual handling of pigs, shearing sheds, older cabbed tractors, and heavy machinery such as harvesters, bulldozers, and cotton module presses. We found that use of firearms without hearing protection presents a pressing hearing health priority. However, farming activities involving machinery used for prolonged periods also present significant risks to farmers hearing health. Noise management strategies on the farm are essential in order to prevent noise injury among farmers.

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