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Hearing loss on the farm

By Jerry Mahan

2 months 21 days 21 hours ago |5 Views | | | Email | Print

We know so much more about hearing loss and what we can do to minimize the damage caused by loud noises for an extended time. Looking back on the time I spent growing up on a farm there was little if any concern for the potential loss of hearing from tractors, silage blowers, lawn mowers, combines, chainsaws, firearms, and livestock to name a few of the sources.


We did not know nor did our parents that running a push lawn mower for 2-3 hours could damage your hearing (9 minutes for a riding mower) as could operating a tractor without a cab for over 4 minutes.


Operating a chain saw for one minute or more can also damage hearing. Other common things I encountered on the farm with the minimum times for hearing damage in parenthesis were squealing pigs (15 minutes) and a combine with no cab (4 minutes).


We are smarter now but like the damage caused by the sun on our faces, necks and ears farmers and others working outside and around machines have been slow to take the precautions necessary to minimize skin damage and hearing loss.


Farm machinery, grain dryers,mowers, weed eaters, snow blowers and other types of equipment commonly come with precautions regarding what is needed by the operator to minimize hearing damage. But too often we think it is not ?cool? to wear the ear plugs or earmuffs (not the type to minimize cold weather) nor take the time to put them on.


Exposure to a noise of 85 decibels or more can damage hearing and the damage is cumulative from time to time and day to day. I commonly see lawn care workers operating leaf blowers and riding lawn mowers without ear protection. Even tree trimmers using chain saws are commonly seen without ear protection.


According to Gordon Hughes, director of clinical programs for the National Institute of Deafness an estimated one third of farmers have hearing loss from farm activities. Some estimates go even higher to 75 percent or more having hearing damage.


For more on this problem do a Google search for the article which appeared in several mid-west news media last fall titled ?Workers Urged to Protect Hearing from Farm Clatter? Other good information can be found on the University of Iowa College of Public Health at: www.public-health.uiowa.edu/gpcah/resources/hearing-loss.html and Penn State Extension at: http://extension.psu.edu/business/ag-safety/health/e48.


We have come a long way in recognizing what causes hearing loss but we must take advantage of hearing protection devices, cabs for tractors and combines, and educating family and other farm workers of the potential danger and where and when ear protection devices should be worn. Those owner’s manuals do contain valuable information. Also newer machinery operates quieter than old styles in some cases.


Can you hear me now?


Applying pesticides correctly


This is the time of year many farmers and pesticide company workers get recertification credits to maintain their license to apply pesticides or apply to get a license. For farmers and greenhouse operators it usually involves a private applicator’s license. This designation involves application of pesticides to property they own or lease.


For companies that apply pesticides to other people’s property like lawn care, termite/insect control, control of mice or roaches in schools or churches, or businesses that spray crops or plants owned by other people for diseases, insects or weeds a commercial license is needed.


If you are interested in being licensed for application of pesticides log on to the website: http://pested.osu.edu. Information on this website includes locations where testing is conducted, study materials needed and how to apply for a pesticide license. The licensing of all pesticide operators is under the jurisdiction of the Ohio Dept. Of Agriculture and more information can be found at: www.agri.ohio.gov/.


Look under programs for? Pesticides and Fertilizers? OSU Ext. is charged with the role of helping educate the pesticide applicators. You can also check with the local extension Office for study publications.


Recognized


The Ohio Soybean Assoc. recently recognized two Greene Co. area farmers in their 2013 Soybean Yield and Quality Contest. Hickory Dell Farm (Roger Dobbins & Doug Swaim & families) of Cedarville had the overall state yield champion with 80.98 bushels /acre in the no-till category. They also had the second place yield of 80.35 bu/acre.


Jeff Shawhan of South Charleston placed first and his father John Shawhan second in the Non-GMO- No-till class with 72.53 and 67.17bushels/acre respectfully. John also had the 2nd place highest protein content entry of 36.8 percent. For more info log on to: www.soyohio.org/aws/OHSOY/pt/sp/osa_yield_contest.


Jerry Mahan is a retired OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources for Greene County. He can be reached by email at: mahan.2@att.net.

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