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Hearing Safety on Duty

Transcript

Ann

Thanks for letting me tag along today.

Ray

Sure.

Ann

Sergeant Gleason, where’s your hearing protection?

Gleason

Right here, ma’am.

Ann

Sergeant Landry?

Landry

Guess I forgot them today, ma’am.

Landry

It’s the same thing as when we were deployed. It’s hard enough to know what’s going on when you have M-16s firing all around you. Add their so-called hearing protection…. Forget about situational awareness.

Gleason

No kidding. I missed an order once because of that exact problem. Almost cost us the whole mission.

Landry

If they were really experts, you’d think they’d realize that when you put something in your ear, it doesn’t just block out the dangerous sounds. How am I supposed to do my job when I can’t hear you or Jay or Pete talking to me?

Gleason

They’re just trying to check the box.

Ann

Actually, we just want you to be safe.

Gleason

Ma’am.

Landry

Well, ma’am, it’s hard to be safe around here when you’re cutting metal and you can’t hear your co-worker tell you to stop because you’ve got a piece of foam shoved in your ear.

Ann

Maybe the ear plugs aren’t the problem.

Ann

You’re going to hear a series of sounds. Press the clicker any time you hear a sound, even if it’s really soft. Okay?

Gleason

Yes, ma’am, sounds good.

Gleason

Is this good or bad?

Ann

It’s not as bad as it could be.

Gleason

Okay. Could you please go through this one more time for me?

Ann

Absolutely.

Gleason

I appreciate it.

Ann

The red goes on your right ear. Click the clicker every time you hear a sound, no matter how soft it is. Are you ready?

Landry

Yes, ma’am.

Landry

I don’t know how to read this, ma’am. What does it mean?

Ann

It means you have enough hearing loss for me to refer you to an audiologist. It’s no wonder you have a hard time hearing when you wear ear plugs.

Landry

Yeah, well, I guess that’s what happens when you spend nine months in a war zone, ma’am.

Ann

It’s true, being exposed to impulse noises like gunfire and explosions… those are hazardous to your hearing if you don’t have good hearing protection. But your job in the structural maintenance shop… because you’re exposed to what we call steady-state noise for extended periods of time… that’s probably done a fair amount of damage too.

Landry

Really?

Ann

Honestly. The equipment you work with is too loud for unprotected ears. The generally accepted threshold for safe sound is 85 decibels. The machinery you work with… a lot of it can get up to 95, 100 decibels.

Gleason

Hey, everyone. I hope this won’t take long. We got a bit of work piled up for us.

Ann

Don’t worry, we talked to your supervisor. He knows you’re away from your duty for this. I asked Ray to join us for this discussion.

Ray

Now that you both have had your hearing tested, Ann and I thought it might be helpful to have a little chat about hearing and hearing protection.

Ann

We understand you both have some concerns about wearing hearing protection and still being able to do your job effectively. But the truth is, if you don’t wear hearing protection, your ability to hear will continue to decline.

Ray

And once you lose it, you can never fully regain it. Hearing aids and assistive listening devices will make sounds seem louder and clearer, but it won’t be the same as your natural hearing.

Gleason

Whoa, slow down. You didn’t say anything about needing hearing aids earlier.

Ann

We want to help you develop a strategy to prevent any further hearing loss before it comes to that.

Landry

Yeah, but it kinda seems like a catch-22, ma’am. My hearing is bad enough that wearing hearing protection just makes it impossible to hear at all, and if I don’t wear it, my hearing loss is going to get worse? How do you strategize around that?

Ray

That’s actually a common misconception about ear plugs. If you wear them properly, you should still be able to hear your co-workers, but at the same time, you’ll be protecting your ears from harmful noise.

Landry

Okay.

Gleason

Sounds good.

Landry

Looks good.

Gleason

Just about ready.

Landry

Thanks.

Landry

I gotta say, these foamies are making things a lot better.

Gleason

I know what you mean. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m glad Major Shepherd and Captain Finney said something.

Landry

You and me both.

Protect your hearing. It’s a noisy world.

Quick Fact

#5

Noise-induced hearing loss, or NIHL, can develop gradually over time with multiple exposures to loud noises or be the result of a one-time exposure to high-intensity noise.

About Us

The Hearing Center of Excellence fosters and promotes the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and auditory injury. It supports the development, exchange and adoption of best practices, research, measures of effectiveness and clinical care guidelines to reduce the prevalence and cost of hearing loss and tinnitus among Warriors and Veterans. Read more

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