Personal Hearing Protection

The majority of male farmers do not report using hearing protection on a regular basis. Initial survey results from 1989 indicate only 30% reported using hearing protection devices (HPDs). This percentage rose to 44% when resampled 10 years later. Only 24.6% of high school students reportedly used hearing protection in an agricultural safety intervention study. However, in the Theiler study, a fairly high percentage of women (78%) were using HPD's in noisy environments. Engstrand, investigated the usage of hearing protec tors and whether they were reducing the amount of hearing loss among male farmers. Fifty farmers who consistently used HPD's were paired with a group of non-users; the results showed that significantly less hearing loss occurred for farmers who had worn protectors. Since firearm noise exposure is quite pervasive in the farming population and the exposure levels are so high, HPDs should be utilized for this activity as well. There are specialized HPDs designed for firearm noise sources that afford protection while maintaining adequate communication during shooting activities. These devices include passive earmuffs, electronic earmuffs, and both passive and electronic custom earplugs. Although the costs for the electronic and custom protectors are relatively high, the benefits should be considered priceless (21,22).

For some farmers, the issue may not be whether to wear hearing protection but rather which type of hearing protector to choose. With over 400 varieties of hearing protection databased on the electronic NIOSH Hearing Protector Device Compendium, the need for technical and practical guidance for proper selection is evident. In general, the laboratory-based Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is a poor guide to real-world protection. Ideally, the best hearing protector is the one the individual will wear routinely because it is comfortable, effective, and compatible with working conditions as well as communication demands (23).

0 0

Post a comment