Age-related factors and farming: Part Two

Age-related health conditions may slow you down when you’re working in the field. Equipment modifications can make things a little easier on an aging farmer.

How many farmers do you know who wear ear plugs or noise reducing headphones while working? Not that many. The nature of farming requires being around loud equipment and animals, and this can contribute to hearing loss in farmers young and old. According to a NIOSH fact sheet, grain bins, tractors, combines and squealing pigs are all above the range of safe decibels.

While tractors with cabs provide some protection from engine noises, the levels can still be high and many farmers do not have equipment with cabs. When using open cab tractors, hearing protection is recommended. Depending on what you use, you can still hear with the protection on, but it will block much of the harmful, loud noises, reducing damage to your hearing.

  • Ear plugs that cover the opening to ear and those that insert into the ear canal are available in most stores and pharmacies. The choice is a matter of comfort and convenience.
  • Noise reducing headphones also come in a variety of styles and price points. These are much a much larger option and cover the entire ear area for protection. Unfortunately, blaring music out of your MP3 player doesn’t count as hearing protection.

Remember that your hearing cannot be recovered once it is lost. Taking simple steps can help you protect your ears allowing you to be able to hear in the future. For other recommendations or an on- farm assessment, contact Michigan AgrAbility at 800-956-4106.

Related Michigan State University (MSU) Extension News article: Age-related factors and farming: Part One.

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