Workers urged to protect hearing from farm clatter

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An estimated one-third of the nation's three million farmers have some level of hearing loss caused by being bombarded daily with sounds that can rival a rock concert's sonic impact, from a tractor's roar to hundreds of clucking chickens.

Many farmers are on their own when recognizing their elevated risk of hearing loss, as only the largest U.S. farms operate under federal workplace safety regulations.

A squealing hog can be as loud as a running snowmobile. Operating a tractor without a cab without protection can damage hearing after 15 minutes.

Nonprofits, university researchers and federal agencies have only recently started to focus on educating farmers and their children how to avoid hearing loss by wearing sound-cutting earmuffs or ear plugs. Some farm machinery also is being designed to run quieter.

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