The scientific literature is lacking in published agricultural noise assessments for employees of swine confinement facilities that have included dosimeter data, octave band analysis, or specific task exposure assessments. This study reports on the former three types of noise assessments in the farrowing stage of swine. Dosimeter data on workers revealed all assessments to be greater than 90 decibels measured on the A-scale (dBA), which exceeds the 85 dBA National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL). RELs were exceeded for all of the employees monitored in the swine facility, as well as the part-time employees who power-washed the farrowing rooms. The recorded time-weighted values were actually underestimated slightly because the dosimeters were set to record only noise at 85 dBA and higher. Octave band analysis indicated noise in these facilities was predominantly in the 2000-5000 Hertz (Hz) range, the critical area of voice communication. Ten individual tasks were assessed, and most were in the range of 85 dBA, but heat checking of sows, and processing piglets were above 90 dBA. The results indicate that noise levels in modern swine facilities fall above the NIOSH REL. Therefore there is a strong potential for noise-induced hearing loss in employees in these facilities. Hearing protection programs should be implemented. Furthermore, there is a need for research to find practical noise reduction methods in these facilities.
- Noise exposure
- Swine confinements
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health