Safe-in-Sound Award celebrates 10 years and new partner

In 2008, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) created the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ to recognize organizations that document measurable achievements in hearing loss prevention.

Over the past 10 years we have given out 10 Excellence Awards and 13 Innovation Awards. In addition to honoring success in hearing loss prevention, the awards have served an important secondary purpose –the acquisition of high quality field data related to successful noise control outcomes and other innovative interventions. Thru the Safe-in-Sound Award™ we learned of several effective real solutions in use by hearing conservation programs, and that noise control was demonstrated to be a cost-effective primary preventive strategy implemented by several of the award recipients. We also learned of successful hearing loss prevention activities and strategies for workers not traditionally considered in typical workplace hearing loss prevention programs (e.g. musicians, military personnel, workers in services and construction). Furthermore, several real-world, cost-effective examples focus on “Buy-Quiet” and “Quiet-by-Design” initiatives. These are programs guiding purchasers to compare the noise emission levels of different models of equipment, and whenever possible, select the quieter model. More information on the winners and the outcomes can be found online.

The search for the 2019 winners is on! Representatives of the selected enterprises/organizations will be invited to the Annual Conference of the National Hearing Conservation Association in Dallas, Texas on February 8, 2019 where they present their award winning stories and receive their award. Award submissions are due by July 13, 2018.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the awards, we are pleased to welcome the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation (CAOHC) to the partnership. CAOHC is a professional organization dedicated to providing consumer safety and protection by offering credentialing to those working to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. CAOHC members include approximately 20,000 Occupational Hearing Conservationists, 175 active Course Directors and 200 current Professional Supervisors. It was 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. CAOHC and Safe-in-Sound both aspire to be a catalyst for information exchange related to hearing conservation, particularly as it pertains to best practices.

The Safe-in-Sound Award™ has proven to have many benefits for the winners. Winning organizations reported that the Safe-in-Sound Award™ provided leverage and opportunities to expand the reach of their current approaches. For example, pilot programs have been adopted by other entities or in other geographical regions. Winners indicated they received greater administrative and managerial support with additional resources allocated to their hearing loss prevention efforts. New strategies have spread corporate-wide and professional and government organizations are discussing new policies, guidelines and procedures.

As we celebrate 10 years of the award and our new partner, CAOHC, we look forward to many more years of honoring excellence and innovation in hearing loss prevention practice. Help us celebrate by submitting an application or encouraging others to apply to this year’s Safe-in-Sound Awards™.

Thais C. Morata, PhD, is a research audiologist with the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology and the Coordinator of the NORA Manufacturing Sector Council.

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