by Carrie Webster

Hearing loss from exposure to loud noises is another key safety concern for America’s pork producers and one where prevention can pay big dividends. Loud noises, or “auditory hazards,” are found in every phase of pork production. An auditory hazard zone exists during any phase of pork production where noise levels are at or above 85 decibels, which is the level when hearing loss begins.

“Hearing loss maybe is not as dramatic as a physical injury from moving hogs or as the dangers posed by gases, but it is permanent,” said the Checkoff’s Karen Hoare. “Squealing pigs, power washers and machinery are the largest factors in hearing loss with pork production. Preventing hearing damage needs to be a daily focus.”

Hoare says that a few simple steps can make a big difference:

Remove or limit yourself from the hazard zone. Spend no more than 15 minutes per day at a duration of 115 decibels. Pigs squealing during feeding time in a gestation barn can equal up to 100 decibels.

Reduce the noise at the source. For example, a power washer with the motor placed outside of the building or in another room can help reduce noise.

Space out noisy tasks. When you have to be in areas with loud noises, use personal protective equipment. It is important that the hearing protection you use is comfortable and fits properly.

Just because a noise does not bother you does not mean that your hearing is not being damaged.