Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) has existed for many years; however, hearing conservation programs (HCPs) are a more recent phenomenon. According to Occupational Hearing Loss by Dr. Joseph Sataloff, in 1948, several legal patterns were established that enabled compensation for partial hearing loss due to occupational noise exposure. As a result, partnerships developed between organizations to strengthen their efforts of establishing effective hearing conservation programs. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 22 million American workers are exposed to hazardous noise on the job, while another 9 million are at risk for hearing loss from agents (e.g. solvents, metals).1
CAOHC formed in the mid-1960s as the Intersociety Committee on Guidelines for Noise Exposure Control. During its formative years, the Committee encouraged the participation of multiple organizations with an interest in preserving the hearing of American workers. The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN)2 recognized the need for a program focusing on the prevention of hearing loss, and contacted the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)3, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM)4 and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) for their expertise. From this, the Intersociety Committee was formed, which produced the Guide for Training Audiometric Technicians in Industry in 1965.
In the 1970s, the Committee helped develop guidelines to evaluate the hazards of noise, develop exposure-control methods, plan hazard-free operations and perform audiometry. Soon after, the Committee developed a national certification program for audiometric technicians, including: exams, training schedules, and a manual.
The Committee, during this time known as the Intersociety Committee for Standardization of Industrial Audiometric Technician Training and Hearing Conservation, was notified that NIOSH would underwrite the formation, development, and first-year operation of the Certification Board for Industrial Audiometric Technicians.
Following the formation of the Certification Board in 1973, the Committee officially changed its name to the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation. The main objective was, and is, to educate, inform and guide industry and those serving industry on successful implementation of occupational hearing conservation programs to prevent occupational hearing loss. Today, CAOHC consists of two representatives from each of the following organizations:
*Historical information gathered from the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation’s Hearing Conservation Manual 5th Edition