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NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program Review NIOSH Publications on Noise and Hearing The National Academies - Advisors to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

What does the HLR Program Do?

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R&D Portfolio - Research Goal 1.9 : Develop a core curriculum in occupational safety and health for high school and post secondary students that includes a module on hearing loss prevention

New and especially young workers (teens within the first year on a job) suffer a disproportionate number of occupational injuries. Behavioral research suggests that instilling an appreciation for safe work practices may best be taught before young people enter the workplace or very early in their working career. It is important to reach young workers with hearing loss prevention information as part of a larger effort to instill health and safety knowledge, skills, and motivation in young workers. Nevertheless, appropriate curricula are in short supply and their adoption by the nation’s schools has been infrequent.

The HLR program helped develop a national curriculum to teach high school students basic OSH skills. It did this in partnership with other parts of NIOSH and with a diverse group that included teachers, administrators, students, parents, and employers. Since occupational noise exposure is common, hearing loss prevention information was considered to be important. Examples of noise hazards and appropriate controls were included. A module composed of interactive activities about hazardous noise and hearing loss prevention was added to the curriculum in 2004. That module was created in partnership with the “Dangerous Decibels” program of the Oregon Health Sciences University. Materials and methods developed through HLR program participation in an interagency hearing health campaign called “Wise Ears” were also incorporated into the curriculum.

During the 2004/2005 school year, the draft curriculum, including the hearing loss prevention module, was tested in sixteen schools across ten states in collaboration with the State Directors of Career Technical Education, the Career Clusters programs in these ten states, and each local school district. The educational partners arranged for test sites in both vocational and traditional public high schools. The optional noise and hearing loss prevention module was used by all schools participating in the pilot and was well received. Data from that evaluation have been processed and the final curriculum elements were selected by a multidisciplinary stakeholder working group in September, 2005. The final version of the curriculum including the noise module will be available in 2006.

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