Farmsafe WA Alliance - Founded by Farmers for Farmers

An independent not-for-profit, non-government organisation encouraging and leading the way to safer farming

Noise Injury & Hearing Safety


Hearing loss through noise injury is a major problem in the farming community, affecting up to two-thirds of farmers to some degree.  Effects include difficulty hearing the telephone or TV; hearing conversation at work, in class, at meetings or wherever there is background noise.

Tinnitus, (ringing/noises in the ear or head) can also be a sign of exposure to excessive noise.  Hearing loss through noise injury is painless, permanent, progressive and preventable

Farm noise hazards

All machinery or activities where you need to raise your voice to communicate 1 metre away, is a noise hazard.  Common farm noise hazards include tractors, chainsaws and firearms.  The louder the noise, the less time can be spent exposed to it before damage starts to occur.  Noise levels above 85dB over an 8 hour working day can damage hearing.  Each 3dB increase above this means the exposure time must be halved to stay within safe levels.

Firearms have noise levels of over 140dB and should never be used without adequate hearing protection.  Exposure to several noisy activities in the day is also cumulative toward the recommended daily noise limit.  The use of radios or MP3 players to drown out the noise associated with a task can also greatly increase the risk of noise injury.

Noise Control Measures

A combination of approaches are required to reduce the risk of noise injury in the workplace, these include:

  1. Eliminate the hazard.
  2. Substitution for a lesser hazard.
  3. Engineering/design options.
  4. Safer work practioces and procedures.
  5. Personal protective equipment- (PPE or PHP).

For more information refer to the Farm noise pamphlet (91kb)

Personal Hearing Protection

The selection of which type of personal protective equipment to use is a very personal one, with both ear muffs and ear plugs having their own advantages and disadvantages a summary of which is shown in the table below.  However the most important thing to remember is the only useful kind of protection is the protection that is actually worn.

To see a comparison of the relative advantages and disadvantages of different forms of hearing protection Click Here. (19kb)

In addition to choosing a type of hearing protector that most suits you, the level of protection given by the device needs to be taken into account.  The SLC(80) rating gives an indication of the reduction of dB given by that grade of PHP.

Class Av. noise level of hazard
SLC(80) rating for PHP
1 less than 90dB 10-13
2 90 to 95dB 14-17
3 95 to 100dB 18-21
4 100 to 105dB 22-25
5 105 to 110dB 26+

For more information check out Farm noise injury facts (229kb)

Shooting and Hearing

Shooting firearms will cause permanent hearing damage that cannot be reversed. Whether you have been shooting for decades or are only just starting, there are some simple steps that can help you to prevent hearing loss and keep the hearing you have.  A firearm produces noise in excess of 140dB and appropriate hearing protection must be worn by both the shooter and any observers.  It is recommended that both high grade ear plugs and ear muffs are used when shooting.

For more information see the Shooting and Hearing Protection pamphlet (1.99Mb)

Consequences of hearing loss.

Hearing loss can lead to social, physical and psychological issues for both the sufferer and their family.  These can include fatigue from the effort of having to listen more closely, loss of self-esteem through fear of being characterised as "deaf", stress through being concerned about not hearing verbal communications correctly, and isolation when situations are avoided through fear of having difficulty hearing.

Close family members can experience irritation as a result of constantly having to repeat themselves, stress of being associated with someone who is hard of hearing and isolation through not being able to effectively communicate with their partner.

What did you say?

Many people may have some form of hearing loss without even realising it. It has been shown that perceived hearing loss is not a good indicator of actual hearing loss.

Here are 10 simple questions that can help you determine if you have a hearing loss problem. If you answer yes to one or more, you may want to consult your doctor.

  1. Do others accuse you of turning the television too loud?
  2. Do others accuse you of not paying attention?
  3. Do you misunderstand 50 for 15 or 60 for 16?
  4. Can you hear better with one ear than the other on the phone?
  5. Have you stopped attending plays and lectures because of the strain exerted to hear what is being said?
  6. Do you have trouble understanding someone speaking to you from another room?
  7. Do you have difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise?
  8. Do you miss the punch line of jokes?
  9. Do you seem to hear the words but not understand them?
  10. Do you have a history of ear infections, earaches or running ears?

Where to go?

Audiology services are distributed through most of the state, with the majority of offices also travelling to more regional areas.  To find the closest audiologist to you visit Audiology Australia at

Noise Injury Prevention Pack

As part of the Noise Injury Prevention Program the following materials were developed to reduce the risk of noise injury to the farming commnity.  To view the materials simply click on the picture


A2 Poster


Reminder Sticker

If you would like to request copies of these materials please do not hestitate to contact us

More Information

For More information check out the brochures below.

Noise_On_Farms (pdf 487kb)

Noise injury prevention strategy (pdf 203kb)

Farm Safety Fact Sheet No. 7 - Farm Noise Safety (pdf 89kb)

Or visit these websites

Australian Communication Exchange

Audio Clinic

Farmsafe Australia


This page has been updated to compliment Farmsafe WA Alliance's Noise Injury Prevention Program.  The program has been made possible through generous support from the Australian Communications Exchange.

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Farmsafe WA Alliance Founded twenty years ago, with the voluntary work of farmers and enthusiasm of other interested bodies.


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