AuthorInternational Labour Organization
Meetings-MESHA-Final Code-2010-10-0355-1-En.doc/v2/v2 111
12. Noise
12.1. Introduction
12.1.1. Noise is a serious occupational hazard to those who work in agriculture. The
less exposure to noise the better. Hearing loss may result from a single intense exposure or
cumulative exposure to noise. There are many potential sources of noise on farms,
including tractors, chainsaws, grain dryers and guns, and contact with animals such as pigs.
Exposure to farm equipment or animal production is the principal source of noise-induced
hearing loss in agriculture. Some typical noise levels are shown in table 12.1 below. By
comparison, the noise level of a normal conversation is 5060 dB.
Table 12.1. Noise levels in selected agricultural activities
12.1.2. For machinery, the best option for reducing noise is to do so at source
through good design. For example, many new tractors and other farm equipment have been
designed so as to emit low levels of noise. The second option is to reduce noise by
installing sound-proofed enclosures, acoustic materials or other engineering measures. If
such means are insufficient, hearing protectors should be provided and the amount of time
spent in noisy environments limited. Hearing protectors may also be needed for other
agricultural processes, such as working with livestock.
12.2. Hazard description
12.2.1. Hearing damage usually occurs over longer periods of time because of
prolonged exposure to high noise levels. Hearing loss may be only temporary after short
periods of exposure to noise, but if workers continue to be exposed to high noise levels
they will suffer permanent damage to their hearing. Permanent damage can also be caused
immediately by sudden, extremely loud noises, e.g. from guns.
12.2.2. High noise levels can also be a safety hazard at work, interfering with
communication and making warnings harder to hear, and they can also increase worker
fatigue and cause irritability, reducing performance.
12.2.3. Noise is generally measured over an eight hours work exposure time. Work
exposures longer than eight hours will reduce the allowed noise levels for extended time

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