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Self-reported Noise Exposures Among Ohio Cash Grain Farmers

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

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. Special Issue (1):79-88 . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15377) @1998
Authors:   J. R.Wilkins III, H. L. Engelhardt, J. M. Crawford, G. L. Mitchell, L. C. Eicher, T. L. Bean, L. A. Jones
Keywords:   Noise exposure, Hearing loss, Farmworkers

As part of the NIOSH-funded Ohio Farm Family Health and Hazard Survey (OFFHHS), self-reported noise exposure data were collected from more than 1,700 Principal Operators (POs) of cash grain farms. Information on exposure to occupational and non-occupational noise sources was obtained by means of a statewide mixed-mode survey.With respect to occupational sources, nearly all survey respondents reported a history of cabless tractor operation, approximately 80% had operated a chain saw, and approximately 70% had operated a combine. About 1/3 respondents reported current employment in a noisy job in addition to farming, while nearly 20% reported a history of non-agricultural noisy employment. The most frequently reported nonoccupational sources of noise exposure were hunting (51.5% of respondents), motorcycle riding (21.2%), and target shooting (20.5%). Self-reported equipmentspecific data on total years of operation or use, days of operation or use per year, and mean hours of operation or use per day were used to estimate lifetime hours of exposure to noisy activities/tasks. Of the more than 61 million cumulative lifetime hours of exposure reported by the 1,700+ respondents, more than half was accounted for by operation of cabless tractors. In addition, 2/3 respondents reported they never wear hearing protection when they operate or are around noisy farm equipment. Attempts to identify factors associated with use of hearing protection revealed that although the prevalence of usage varied by age and education, use was poor across all subgroups examined, suggesting that agricultural workers of all ages and levels of education would benefit from interventions designed to reduce the incidence of noiseinduced hearing loss.

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