Chair's Message - Fall 2009

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

Have you reviewed your company’s noise level survey lately? When was the last time you looked at the plant’s noise level measurements? Have you used the noise level survey data to determine the most appropriate hearing protectors for your workers? Are the employees with whom you work aware of their own noise exposures on the job? If yes...terrific! If no . . . why not?

An effective hearing loss prevention program (HLP) begins with noise monitoring. The results ultimately drive the entire program. The noise levels are used to determine which employees must be included in the hearing conservation program and to make decisions about the type, style and noise reduction ratings of the hearing protective devices we select and fit on each worker. The noise exposure levels must be included on each employee’s annual audiometric test record and shared with the employees during the annual training program. Every worker needs to know about the level of hazardous noise on the job. And don’t forget it is the employer’s responsibility to assess the feasibility of noise controls when time-weighted-average exposure levels exceed 90 dBA. How can we accomplish all these components of the program without an accurate, comprehensive noise level survey?

The most effective HLPs always include a phase of program evaluation. This phase allows the HLP “team” to realistically assess the current status of the program and, more importantly, provides meaningful feedback that helps the team make on-going priority decisions about the program. I challenge you to take a close look at the noise survey this year during your periodic program evaluation and ask yourself the following questions. Have you collected all of the necessary information? Have you collected a “representative sample” of all potential noise hazards? Did you base your HLP decisions on the noise data collected?

Noise monitoring can be a challenge and is often a costly endeavor for a company. However, without this piece of the puzzle, it will be extremely difficult to make appropriate program decisions. You simply must have the noise data to move forward effectively!

As always, CAOHC strives to enhance HLPs through excellent educational programming, and the topic of noise measurement is being ‘tackled” as we speak. Be watching for the launch of a new teaching module – designed to make the student more knowledgeable about how to collect, interpret, and use noise measurement data. Your program will be more effective when the important decisions concerning inclusion, hearing protection, audiometry and training are made in the context of up-to-date noise data. Let CAOHC be a resource to you and help you continue to improve your program. CAOHC . . . there is no equal.

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