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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

927Z8UF - Success in Hearing Loss Prevention

Start Date: 6/1/2007
End Date: 9/30/2010

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: Thais Morata
Phone: 513-533-8487
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed

Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

NIOSH has partnered with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) to establish Safe-in-SoundTM Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention. This Public Health Practice Project aims to obtain information on real world successful hearing loss prevention programs currently in use in industry and disseminate it widely. NIOSH and NHCA have used their unique access to expertise to develop specific nomination and evaluation criteria for the awards. Rigorous analyses will determine Award recipients. Both institutions are also in a strategic position to disseminate the knowledge obtained in the process to the hearing conservation community. The dissemination of evidence-based findings will enable other groups to effectively advance hearing loss prevention practice. This project is being funded by the manufacturing, services and construction NORA sectors programs.


This project aims to address this recommendation put forth by the National Academies review, by making it attractive to industry safety personnel to volunteer their success stories by nominating their hearing loss prevention initiatives for an award.

The phases of the project include:

1. Establish a validated process by which industries can measure the performance of their health practices against accepted key performance indicators. accomplished in FY 2008

2. Use a rigorous systematic review process to capture and evaluate the successes and lessons learned. FY 2009

3. Recognize businesses that uphold effective hearing loss prevention as a business value and document measurable achievement. FY 2009

4. Share leading edge and best practices information for educational purposes worldwide. FY 2009 and beyond.

NIOSH has contracted with the NHCA for the management of the Award, including organization of the pre-conference workshop, dissemination of call for nominations, selection of the award committee, and technical site visits.

Businesses are being invited to submit their successful experiences in hearing loss prevention and enter a detailed description of their experience. Because of their leadership roles and expertise, NIOSH and NHCA are in the position to review applications and select the three best stories to be further examined in site visits to the companies. Initially, nominees could be from the manufacturing, construction or services economic sectors. Later this criterion might be modified. The completion of the project will rely upon partnerships for the scientific scrutiny of nominations and the input from the safety and health professionals who nominate their company for the award. The proposal of evaluation criteria for success in hearing conservation programs was drafted based on the existing literature and input from partners. A special session was organized during the 2008 NHCA annual meeting to reach consensus on robust criteria to characterize a successful hearing conservation program. Representatives from industry, labor, academia and government were given an opportunity to offer input. Criteria for selecting Award recipients can include documented reduction in noise levels, documented reduction in threshold shifts registered longitudinally; quality of noise exposure and audiometric records; interviews with safety personnel, managers and employees; and observing procedures such as audiometric testing and hearing loss prevention training. NIOSH and NHCA will then disseminate these real world solutions in meetings, publications and online. The award winner will be asked to present their success story at the NHCA annual conference.


This project aims to obtain information on real world successful hearing loss prevention programs and public health practices currently in use in industry and disseminate it widely. The specific intermediate goals of this project are to expedite the gathering of information of successful practices, methods, and materials designed to prevent hearing loss and disseminate it to a larger audience. Long-term goals are to evaluate the effectiveness and the reach of the approaches that were gathered by the project in reducing hearing loss.

Short-term impact will be determined by objective measures of the interest generated by the award, such as the quantity of nominations to the award and the number of requests for materials and information made available to the public. Long term impact will be measured in the evaluation of the sustainability of the award process itself (the ability of NIOSH and NHCA to attract other partners and secure a resource base –financial, organizational and individual-to maintain the award) and commitment of partners to sustain the quality of best practice awards and research translation.

Mission Relevance

In 2005, NIOSH requested that the National Academies (NA) evaluate NIOSH's research programs with respect to their impact, relevance, and future directions. The NA recommended that NIOSH "use information from evaluation of hearing loss prevention measures to guide program planning". In addition, reviewers urged NIOSH to "place greater emphasis on evaluation of the effectiveness of hearing loss prevention measures on the basis of outcomes that are as closely related as possible to reducing noise exposure and the incidence of occupational hearing loss." In the report they specifically mentioned that the Hearing Loss Research Program should implement consistent and concerted evaluation activities that inform and focus its work on hearing loss prevention. They indicated that prospective evaluations of the recommended components of hearing loss prevention programs are needed to determine which features have the most significant impacts on reducing noise exposure levels or hearing loss incidence rates.

Currently there is no consensus on how to evaluate successes in hearing loss prevention and few publications exist on intervention effectiveness (El Dib et al., 2006, Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 19;[2]). NIOSH and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) have unique access to expertise and resources to develop specific evaluation criteria using scientific scrutiny, and rigorous analyses to determine Award recipients in different economic sectors. Both institutions are also in a strategic position to disseminate the knowledge obtained in the process to the hearing conservation community. The dissemination of evidence-based findings will enable other groups to effectively advance hearing loss prevention practice.

The proposed effort is relevant to the Hearing Loss Prevention Cross Sector, Strategic Goal (SG) 4: Develop best practices for hearing loss prevention programs, as well as the Manufacturing sector SG4: reduce the incidence of occupationally-induced hearing loss in the manufacturing, and more specifically SG8: Reduce the incidence of injuries, illnesses and fatalities within specific sub-sectors and small businesses within the manufacturing. This project ultimately aims to contribute to the intermediate and output goals of development, implementation, and evaluation of effective hearing loss prevention programs.