Hearing Conservation Programs in the Military

Identifying when hearing conservation measures were adequate to protect the hearing of service members derives from legislative language. The legislation requested that the committee identify when audiometric measures used by the military became adequate to evaluate individual hearing loss (threshold shift) and when hearing conservation measures to prevent hearing loss were available to service members. The evaluation of hearing conservation programs is not a simple task of either assessing a checklist of necessary components or performing a straightforward analysis of an audiometric database. Current hearing conservation programs do not include monitoring or prevention of tinnitus. The relationship between noise exposure and tinnitus is not yet well understood. However, the committee makes the presumption that measures taken to protect against noise-induced hearing loss are likely to help in the prevention of tinnitus. Thus, many of the elements of a hearing conservation program could be applied to prevention of tinnitus as well as hearing loss.

Department of Defense Policy

–DOD Hearing Conservation Programs will not use age corrections when determining STS

–The 15 dB shift at 1, 2, 3 or 4 k Hz will be dropped from the DOD STS definition, but will be retained as an early warning flag. No follow-up will be required when a 15dB shift occurs

–Reportable hearing loss cases will be recorded on the OSHA 300 log for civilian personnel and on the DA Form 285 for military personnel