Chair's Message - Summer 2008

Mary M. McDaniel By Mary M. McDaniel, AuD CCC-A CPS/A

CAOHC is about raising the bar and keeping it high! From its inception, CAOHC has promoted excellence in hearing conservation. Although there is not an OSHA mandate that hearing testing be performed by a certified audiometric technician, we’re proud of the fact that many companies in the US and around the world recognize the importance of quality control and strive for excellence in their hearing conservation programs (HCP). They value the training CAOHC provides and choose to employ Certified Occupational Hearing Conservationists (COHCs) to work in their programs. CAOHC continues to raise the bar, and is proud to promote the role of the Professional Supervisor (PS) of the audiometric portion of the hearing conservation program as yet another way to maintain our standard of excellence.

The Professional Supervisor has always been identified in the OSHA regulation as a role for an audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician. The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) has the same requirement for the professional supervisor role. The role of the PS should not be confused with that of the Supervisor of the Hearing Conservation Program. The HCP supervisor may be responsible for the overall management and effectiveness of the program and my also be the direct administrative supervisor of the OHC. However, the responsibility to ensure that audiograms are being correctly performed and that appropriate follow-up and referral activities are completed belongs to the PS. Although COHCs play a crucial role in the success of hearing conservation programs, they are not qualified to supervise the audiometric testing or referral process, regardless of how well trained they may be.

In addition to ensuring valid and reliable audiometric testing and proper follow-up, the responsibilities of the PS include establishing protocols for audiogram evaluation (i.e. age adjustment and revised baselines), managing the audiometric database, and determining the work-relatedness of a hearing loss cases. These elements are what elevate a hearing conservation program from “compliant” to “effective”. They are an extremely valuable part of a hearing conservation program and essential to the proper functioning of the OHC. OHCs who complete the CAOHC curriculum are highly qualified and valuable team members who can, when working closely with their Professional Supervisor, make a significant impact on the lives of noise-exposed workers. Hearing Conservation requires a team effort. Work to build and strengthen your team, keep the bar high, and strive for excellence. CAOHC. . . . there is no equal!

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