Monitoring and Controlling Noise in Agriculture is a topic which my big blog has close to its heart – born into a family of small holders the my big blog team have experienced first hand some of the safety and health issues which arise for people working on and with farms and equipment on farms… this post is here to help show you how to stay safe as well as review the past years in the farming industry in relation to noise pollution and any impacts this may have on both land owners, livestock and free holdings.
HSE research indicates that around 25 per cent of people working in the agricultural industry suffer from hearing loss. The unrelenting racket of farm machinery, vehicles and even animals combine to form an earsplitting assault, often causing irreversible damage. (You’ll probably be surprised to learn that pigs kept indoors can generate noise levels of above 100dB during feeding times, which is louder than an electric drill.)
So with these facts in mind, what can be done to protect workers from noise and hearing loss in farming?
Assessing The Noise Levels on Your Farm
If you are worried about noise levels on your farm and the effect they could be having on workers, you need to implement a noise monitoring programme. This will give you a clear idea of workers’ current noise exposure, enabling you to put measures in place in order to reduce it to a safe level.
A sufficiently trained individual such as a health and safety officer or noise consultant should carry out the assessment using a compliant noise measurement instrument… (pictured) Since noise in agriculture is extremely varied, every piece of machinery must be tested along with every group of livestock to get a good idea of the main culprits.
For such tasks its recommend the Pulsar Nova Model 43 or 44, which are ideal for measuring machinery noise as well as workers’ daily exposure, and can also be used to calculate hearing protection requirements. If you want something with fewer buttons and functions, opt for Pulsar’s Assessor range, which is very simple to use but is still ideal for monitoring noise in agriculture.
Alternatively, the DoseBadge system can simply be clipped onto workers’ shoulders to measure their noise exposure throughout the day as they work. These are very robust so are ideal for harsher outdoor environments.
What to Do with the Results
Once the data from the noise assessments has been analysed, this should be used to implement suitable noise control and reduction measures, if required. Some suggestions include:
- Replacing noisy machines, tools and vehicles with quieter ones, or keeping them better maintained to reduce the noise they make
- Recommending or enforcing hearing protection around certain machines, tools, vehicles and animals
- Enclosing noisy machinery within a separate outbuilding to protect nearby workers
- Using absorbent materials to reduce reverberation in such areas
- Increasing the frequency of shift rotation or regularly switching workers undertaking particularly noisy tasks
The HSE again gives a comprehensive list of agricultural noise reduction techniques, from reducing the noise at source to silencing and cancelling it. Identifying the main sources of noise and implementing suitable measures of control are essential in the protection of workers against excessive noise and hearing loss in farming. More information and advice can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/noise; alternatively, go to pulsarinstruments.com to buy quality sound level meters that are ideal for monitoring noise in agriculture and further afield…