Hearing Conservation Program: A Review of Best Practices for the United States Air Force

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In this article, authors review the recent literature in hearing conservation best practices to contribute to the Air Force Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) quality improvement measures. The cited research addresses HCP successes and deficits, revealing a need for increased health behavior theory-based training for workers, improved hearing protection device (HPD) usage, and more documentation of program evaluation. Worker training, based on health behavior theory, has the potential to increase HPD use, a critical component in HCP. HPDs should be fit-tested, monitored, and adjusted to meet workers’ needs and should allow for communication without overprotection. Evaluation and consistent record-keeping of the HCP and audiological measures are critical to provide feedback for managers to make adjustments as necessary. In the military environment, it is pertinent to evaluate the program using the Department of Defense’s Defense Occupational Environmental Health Readiness System, Hearing Conservation and Data Repository (DOEHRS-HC/DR) and adapt the HPD inventory to the unique needs of military personnel. Though best practice guidelines for program management have not been proven, the research continues to evolve; only long-term studies will determine the true effectiveness of preventing noise-induced hearing loss in workers.

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