Hearing Loss – What’s That You Say?

Reg Steward, Beef in BC; July/August 2016

Many of us suffer a bit or a lot of hearing loss. This comes with age for sure and is often a result of long-term exposures to moderate levels of noise. It is certainly annoying, both to the one who has the loss and the ones who work and/or live around them. I know that as do many of you. The grandkids who have to repeat things, the movie that you need just enough louder to annoy others watching, you know the drill.

Sadly, yes, you probably do know the drill. Hearing loss is attended to in many different ways: some get devices to help, others ignore the issue or pretend they don’t have one, and yet others of us are just in that in-between stage where we don’t need help yet but the edge is definitely gone. I know that on the outfit I ride for, the cowboss has learned he has to yell a bit louder and make sure I am looking his way before he calls out some instruction. He has also demonstrated great patience when I lean in from across the bawling herd and yell “pardon”.

Noise is a serious and widespread problem in many agricultural workplaces. The formula that calculates exposure and acceptable noise levels is, in its simplest form, volume over duration. A very loud sound, like a shotgun blast, can cause damage instantly, whereas a much reduced decibel level can cause damage when sustained over an extended period of time. Noise from machinery, animals, (weaning?), tools and equipment can cause permanent hearing loss. You do need to consider the level of noise that you will be exposing yourself, your family members or workers to. Some tasks that may seem relatively quiet, perhaps by comparison to others, have greater potential to cause hearing loss than one might think.

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