A Deputy Sheriff in Florida who developed a program to help law enforcement officers protect their hearing during firearms training won the this year’s Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™.

The award was presented to Ryan Lee Scott of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA). The award honors those who have contributed to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus through effective practices or innovations directed to those who are exposed to noise at work.

Firearms training a hearing hazard

Scott recognized the potential risk that shooting firearms during qualification training posed to his ability to hear, and the need for effective hearing loss prevention strategies and training for police officers. He sought guidance from a faculty team at the University of Florida to learn about the high-level impulse sounds produced by firearms and interventions to minimize the risk.

The new knowledge motivated him to develop an educational workshop: “Firearms Training and Hearing Loss” tailored specifically to the law enforcement community. The workshop covers the potential for unprotected firearm sounds to damage their hearing, and the use of specialized hearing protection devices and firearm suppressors to reduce the sound levels. Scott engages attendees with his own real-world real-life career and training experiences.

An advocate for an underserved community

“His commitment is even more noteworthy as he has invested both his personal time and money to voluntarily develop, travel and deliver his training sessions,” noted NIOSH. “He has also become an advocate, working to increase the availability of technological solutions and devices that integrate hearing protection with radio communication systems, so that situational awareness is preserved for those whose hearing is critical to job performance and safety. Towards that goal, he has reached out to a variety of stakeholders, including public safety officers and supervisory administrative teams responsible for acquisition and purchasing decisions. Deputy Sheriff Scott’s initiative and leadership efforts to promote hearing loss prevention and dissemination of evidence-based information on this topic demonstrate his true passion and commitment to reducing the effects of noise among the underserved law enforcement community.”

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