Chair's Message - Spring 2010

Lee HagerBy Lee D. Hager

The 5 W’s of CAOHC

“So I know I need this CAOHC thing to give hearing tests at work – but what is it really all about? And why do they keep sending me this newsletter??”

As the incoming chair of the CAOHC Council, let me approach these questions in the classical journalistic fashion – the 5 W’s and an H.

First – WHO?
CAOHC is comprised of appointed representatives from a variety of professional organizations who have vested interest in occupational hearing conservation.

  • American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), represented by me and Chandran Achutan, PhD
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), represented by Mary McDaniel, AuD CCC-A CPS/A and Ted Madison, MA CCC-A
  • American Academy of Audiology (AAA), represented by Laurie Wells, AuD FAAA CPS/A and Theresa Schulz, PhD LtCol USAF (ret)
  • Military Audiology Association (MAA), represented by Vickie Tuten, COL, MS, CPS/A and Tom Hutchison, MA MHA FAAA CPS/A
  • American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), represented by Bruce Kirchner, MD MPH CPS/A and Eric Evenson, MD MPH
  • American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), represented by Madeline Kerr, PhD RN and Diane DeGaetano, RN BSN COHN-S
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), James Crawford, LTC, MC, USA
  • American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), represented by Ron Schiable, CIH CSP PE (Mass.) and David Lee, MIS CIH CSP
  • Institute for Noise Control Engineering (INCE), represented by Robert Bruce, PE INCE Bd.Cert and Kimberly Lefkowitz

Each of these people and their parent organizations has a strong vested interest in the prevention of occupational hearing loss. The component professional organizations (CPOs) appoint members to the Council for up to two 5 year terms. The Council meets face to face a couple of times a year and via conference call regularly.

So WHAT do you all do?
The responsibility of the Council is to provide cross-disciplinary oversight of the curriculum and training provided to you all to improve the quality and integrity of occupational hearing conservation programs. We establish and maintain budgets, review and develop training materials, establish educational standards and qualifications, and take on new projects that align with our objective of helping you prevent hearing loss by continuously improving the skills of people working in hearing conservation.

WHERE do you all do this stuff?
While our offices are headquartered in Milwaukee, we hope that our effect is felt most where you are – where the rubber hits the proverbial road in the practice of hearing conservation. You can find us and Kim Breitbach, our Executive Director, at 414-276-5338, but we hope you feel the effect of CAOHC and the training you received in your place of business every day.

WHY do you do what you do??
Simply put, to help you prevent hearing loss. Work-related hearing loss remains a chronic problem for US workers in industry and in the military. Over the past 6 years, an average of more the 25,000 people per year have received permanent, irreversible noise-induced hearing loss on the job – and that’s just the industrial side (see related article in this issue of Update). Recent reports indicate that a significant portion of service personnel returning from deployment in the Middle East are coming back with significant hearing problems (as an example, see The Guardian from December 20, 2009) – noise is an issue that has not gone away. That’s why we continue to try to find ways to improve the practice of hearing conservation to enable you to do a better and better job of protecting the hearing of the folks you work with.

So HOW do you do that?
We start by trying to make sure that the folks providing training to you all are qualified and are teaching you what you need to know to be effective in your hearing conservation work. The Course Directors (CDs) who teach CAOHC-approved classes undergo regular training and retraining, and are experts in the fields of both hearing conservation and education.

In addition, we have established training courses for Professional Supervisors (PS). These are the folks we look to when we see issues or problems in industrial hearing tests – the physician or audiologist who provides the technical review of the hearing tests to determine work-relatedness and referral criteria. Your relationship with your PS is a critical aspect of the effectiveness of your hearing conservation program, and we believe that a PS who has successfully passed a CAOHC Professional Supervisor course is best qualified to provide the help you need in hearing conservation program management.

We are also trying to enhance other areas of hearing conservation program practice. We currently have an on-line noise measurement course under development that will help those folks who collect noise exposure information to do a better job of assessing the risk to hearing posed by noise in the workplace.

WHEN does all this stuff go on?
Always. The year-round list of courses offered by CAOHC-approved course directors is posted on the CAOHC website at You can always find the latest list if course offerings there as well as lots of other useful stuff.

There is another clock ticking for you, though. CAOHC credentials must be renewed every five years to make sure that you have the latest training and information about hearing conservation. While we will try to remind you, it is up to you to arrange to attend a one-day refresher course typically offered by CDs in conjunction with their full 3-day classes. If you are still practicing in hearing conservation, it is important that you update your skills and your credentials.

Well, that’s my story and – as they say – I’m sticking to it. Please call us at 414-276-5338 or email us at if you have any questions. The status of your credential and renewal date are available to you at

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