Farm Noise Hearing Injury


Noise injury and hearing loss is a significant problem in the Australian farming community.  Hearing loss sustained from noise injury, can have disabling personal and social consequences for the affected person and their family.  Research has shown that around two-thirds of farmers have a measurable hearing loss, or have on average, hearing levels 10 to 15 years worse than that of the rest of the population.
 
Noise injury in farmers occurs from prolonged exposure to on-farm noise hazards such as tractors, chainsaws, firearms.  Damage can be caused by prolonged and cumulative effects of noise over 85 dB over many years; or by instant trauma associated with peak noise levels over 140 dB.  Exposure to excessive noise levels without protection, represent an unacceptable risk to the hearing health of farming families.
 
 
Research reports on farm noise injury are available at http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/aghealth.  This research also informed Farmsafe Australia’s Noise Injury Prevention Strategy for the Australian Farming Community, developed to address the hearing health needs of farmers.
 
The Australian Centre for Agriultural Health and Safety undertook a community based project funded through the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, using the framework provided by the Noise Injury Prevention Strategy.  The Better Hearing for Farm Families Project, conducted in three NSW communities aimed to:

  • Improve awareness of noise injury and hearing health strategies

  • Improve access to services offering advice on noise injury prevention, audiometric screening and services / devices for the hearing impaired

  • Improve networking of services within local communities