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Task-Based Noise Exposures for Farmers Involved in Grain Production

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

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 19(2): 101-113. (doi: 10.13031/jash.19.9540) @2013
Authors:   Michael J Humann, Wayne T Sanderson, Kelley J Donham, Kevin M Kelly
Keywords:   Noise Noise exposure Safety and health.

Abstract. Few studies have been done examining noise exposures associated with agricultural tasks. This study was conducted to address that research gap by calculating the noise exposures for tasks and equipment associated with grain production and assessing the variability in those exposures. An additional aim of this study was to identify tasks and equipment that could be targeted for intervention strategies as a means toward reducing the total noise exposures of farmers and farm workers. Through the use of personal noise dosimetry and direct observation, over 30,000 one-minute noise exposure measurements and corresponding task and equipment data were collected on 18 farms and compiled into a task-based noise exposure database. Mean noise exposures were calculated for 23 tasks and 18 pieces of equipment. The noise exposures for the tasks and equipment ranged from 78.6 to 99.9 dBA and from 80.8 to 96.2 dBA, respectively, with most of the noise exposures having a large standard deviation and maximum noise exposure level. Most of the variability in the task and equipment noise exposures was attributable to within-farm variations (e.g., work practices, distance from noise sources). Comparisons of the mean noise exposures for the agricultural tasks and equipment revealed that most were not statistically different. Grain production tasks and equipment with high mean noise exposures were identified. However, the substantial variability in the noise exposures and the occurrence of intense noise measurements for nearly every task and piece of equipment indicate that targeting a few specific tasks or equipment for intervention strategies would reduce lifetime noise exposure but would not completely eliminate exposure to hazardous noise levels.

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