Hearing status and use of personal protective equipment in grain and wine workers particpating in a hearing surveillance program
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Grain and swine workers exposed to greater than 85 dB(A) are at risk for noise induced hearing loss. When hearing damage occurs is uncertain. Ensuing damage is irreversible. When the source of the noise cannot be eliminated, workers have to rely on hearing protection devices. Early identification of agricultural related hearing loss characteristics in a workers’ career is critical. At present, little is known about the nature of hearing loss in agricultural industries. The purpose of this study was to examine the state of hearing health and hearing protection usage in Saskatchewan grain and swine workers. Pender’s Health Promotion model provided a conceptual framework for the research project by guiding the assessment of general hearing health characteristics and the development of discussion related to hearing protection use. Method: A secondary analysis was conducted of data collected on 299 grain and 125 swine workers who were examined through an occupational health surveillance program between 2004 and 2009. A questionnaire was used to gather information on the use of hearing protection devices, noise exposure history, and variables associated with use of hearing protection devices. Hearing at 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 6000 Hz was measured by an audiogram that was administered by a trained technician. Overall hearing loss was defined as any loss at any frequency in either ear at ≥ 25dB from the results of the audiogram. Statistical Approach: Means and standard deviations were used to express continuous variables and categorical variables were described with frequencies and percentages. Logistic regression models were used to assess the association between significant hearing losses and occupation, adjusting for other important variables. For all comparisons, the level of statistical significance was set at (α) = p<0.05. Results: Years of employment were higher in the grain worker population. Hearing loss and ringing in the ears from a loud noise was observed in half of the worker population. The grain worker group showed a greater overall hearing loss (≥25dB) compared to swine worker group. In fact, over 91% of those with a significant hearing loss were grain workers. Those workers with hearing loss were more likely to be older, male, and report current ringing in their ears. Grain workers wore hearing protection only half the time when in a noisy environment and swine workers almost consistently used hearing protection when in a noisy environment. General use of hearing protection in the workers was seen in only half of the worker population. Risk factors for ≥ 25 dB hearing loss in either ear at any frequency were age, male gender and being a grain worker. Conclusion: In this study worker related hearing loss is a major health risk with 50 % of the study population experiencing a significant hearing loss. As a serious occupational hazard it appears to have a greater impact on grain workers as compared to swine workers. The results of this study will be used to identify strategies to promote the hearing health of grain and swine workers in Saskatchewan.
DegreeMaster of Nursing (M.N.)
CommitteeKirychuk, Shelley; Koehncke, Niel; Andrews, Mary Ellen
Copyright DateDecember 2012
Grain and swine workers Hearing protection use in grain and swine workers