Alice Suter, M.S. Ed., Ph.D., James P. Keogh Award 2012

photo of James P. Keogh

James P. Keogh, MD

Alice Suter, M.S. Ed., Ph.D., has been a leader in occupational hearing conservation for the past four decades. Dr. Suter received a BA from the American University in 1959 and earned an MS Ed in deaf education from Gallaudet College in 1960. She earned a PhD in audiology from the University of Maryland in 1977.

Dr. Suter joined the Office of Noise Abatement and Control at the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1973. Her technical contributions and leadership formed the basis of the “Health Effects Criteria Document” and the publication of “Levels of Noise Requisite to the Protection of Public Health and Welfare with an Adequate Margin of Safety.” These documents were key to the global adoption of recommendations for health protection and recognition by the World Health Organization. Addressing the psychological, physiological, performance, and communication effects of noise, many of these recommendations remain “best practices” today.

In 1978, Dr. Suter transferred to the U.S. Department of Labor, where she led the development of the Hearing Conservation Amendment to the OSHA noise standard. A “safety net” for workers exposed to noise, the standard has led to employer-provided earplugs, annual hearing tests, training at work about noise and hearing loss, as well as many international hearing conservation policies.

Joining NIOSH in 1988 as a visiting scientist, Dr. Suter focused on agriculture and construction workers who were not covered by the noise regulations. She coauthored the NIOSH Publication “A Practical Guide to Effective Hearing Conservation Programs in the Workplace.”

Dr. Suter has authored over 50 publications, including the “Hearing Conservation Manual” (currently in its fourth edition). Written for the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation, the manual has helped shape the training of audiologists and occupational hearing conservationists in the United States. She is a fellow in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). She has received a Distinguished Service Citation from ASA, the Alice Hamilton Award from the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and the Michael Beall Threadgill Award, Outstanding Hearing Conservationist Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Hearing Conservation Association.

Page last reviewed: April 26, 2012