About the Training
Who is an Occupational Hearing Conservationist?
A Certified Occupational Hearing conservationist (COHC) plays an integral role on the hearing conservation team. Even though the audiometric testing program must be supervised by an audiologist or physician, the COHC may be closely involved with noise-exposed workers and their activities.
COHCs may be audiologists, physicians, occupational health nurses, industrial hygienists, human resources directors, workplace safety officers or any person interested in occupational hearing conservation. COHCs may be responsible for performing pure tone air conduction audiometric testing, fitting hearing protection devices, providing education, and enforcing hearing conservation program (HCP) compliance.
Some COHCs work in fixed facilities such as on-site industry clinics or occupational health clinics while others travel and provide services through mobile hearing testing vans or trucks. COHCs may also work in government agencies and military installations.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) 29 Code of Federal Regulation 1910.95(g)(3):
"Audiometric tests shall be performed by a licensed or certified audiologist, otolaryngologist, or other physician or by a technician who is certified by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation or who has satisfactorily demonstrated competence in administering audiometric examinations, obtaining valid audiograms and properly using, maintaining and checking calibration and proper functioning of the audiometers being used."
OHC training is offered in multiple locations throughout North America and other countries. See the OHC Course Search Listings section for locations and dates in your area.
Components of a Hearing Conservation Program
An effective occupational hearing conservation program (HCP) is implemented to help preserve and protect the hearing of employees who work in jobs that expose them to hazardous noise such as manufacturing, agriculture, mining, military, transportation, construction etc. Effective HCPs also give employees the knowledge they need to protect themselves from other non-occupational noise exposure.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an occupational HCP consists of these elements:
- Noise measurement
- Noise control
- Audiometric testing
- Hearing protection
- Employee education and training
The COHC may be involved in all of these components.
While OSHA provides the minimum standards for hearing conservation, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides a practical guide outlining components of an HCP which are considered to be best practices:
- Noise exposure monitoring
- Engineering and administrative controls
- Audiometric evaluation
- Use of hearing protection devices
- Education and motivation
- Program evaluation
- The HCP audit
What are the Benefits of an Effective Hearing Conservation Program?
An effective hearing conservation program (HCP) will prevent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and its associated side effects. Identifying, reducing, and eliminating hazardous noise sources in the workplace is the first step of a HCP. If hazardous noises cannot be eliminated, annual hearing testing must be offered to the employees working in an environment at or above 85 dBA TWA. The hearing testing provides detection of hearing losses from on-the-job noise exposure and from other causes that might otherwise go undetected. Any shifts in hearing should be caught immediately and remediation taken place so that the hearing loss does not become permanent. This allows for early intervention and prevention of further damage.
Both employees and management benefit from an effective HCP. Employees in an effective HCP may feel less fatigue and stress. Employee morale may improve. Less noise and better hearing can also lead to greater job satisfaction, productivity and safety. Studies have shown that effective HCPs can help reduce accident rates, as well as illnesses and lost time on the job. Management may experience better labor-management relations. The prevention of noise-induced hearing loss has been shown to reduce the risk of workers compensation liabilities and may also help contain costs associated with workers compensation claims.