Deafness and other noise injuries are becoming an increasing issue for the farming community, according to the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety (ACAHS).

As part of National Farm Safety Week the ACAHS has reminded people working in industrial and agricultural settings of the dangers and ramifications of not correctly protecting the ears or hearing.

According to research, approximately two-thirds of Australian farmers have measurable hearing loss, leaving them with average levels of hearing that are 10-15 years inferior to the rest of the country. Noise injuries for farmers and rural workers are generally caused by extended exposure to noise hazards like tractors, chainsaws and firearms. The damage is often caused by protracted and cumulative effects from exposure to noise over 85 dB for a number of years, or trauma from peak noise levels that are over 140 dB.

The Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety have suggested a number of techniques for minimising the damage from noise hazards, but it largely boils down to recognising that hearing damage can occur from seemingly low levels of sound over a long period. ACAHS also suggests employing audiometric screening, isolating earmuffs, better sound deadening in cabs and buildings, and improved services for those who already suffer hearing loss.

More information and some helpful fact sheets are available from the ACAHS.