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NEWS | Aug. 28, 2012

The essential Hearing Conservation Program

By Staff Sgt. Rasheen A. Douglas Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Hearing, unlike a broken limb, can't be healed with a cast and physical therapy. Once you've experienced hearing loss - it's permanent and irreversible.

The U.S. Air Force Hearing Conservation program is designed to help prevent and or minimize noise induced hearing loss to workers assigned in hazardous noise areas.

Most Airmen assigned to flying squadrons and squadrons that support the flying mission such as maintenance squadrons, are just a few of the organizations affected by this program, according to Master Sgt. David Tolson, 628th Medical Group Public Health noncommissioned officer in charge.

The Hearing Conservation Program is a component of the Air Force Office of Safety and Health program designed to protect workers from the harmful effects of hazardous noise. This requires identifying all areas where workers are exposed to hazardous noise and reducing exposure through engineering or administrative controls, personal protective equipment or worker placement.

The 628th Medical Group Public Health staff conducts audiometric testing program, fits hearing protection devices at initial audiograms, and provides counseling on audiometric results and monitors audiometric compliance. They also track compliance of follow-up tests and ensure referrals are made to the appropriate Primary Care Manager team and regional audiology or hearing conservation referral center.

The 628th MDG Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight performs noise surveys and dosimetry to quantify noise hazards to industrial shops.

"They help determine permissible exposure limits for shop personnel exposed to continuous or intermittent exposures and impulse or impact exposures during these surveys," said Tolson.

The Public Health staff also assists in determining the appropriate health surveillance for exposed personnel.

It is up to workplace supervisors to help protect the hearing of assigned personnel by ensuring protective engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment are used correctly by all workers and to ensure their workplace complies with all OSHA, DoD and Air Force HCP requirements said Tolson.

In addition, the program helps reduce claims for hearing loss against the Air Force.

For more information on the Air Force Hearing Conservation Program contact Kevin Baker at 963-6974.