By Thais Morata, Chucri A. Kardous, and Ryan Lee Scott
(Posted by NIOSH on March 3.) Today on World Hearing Day we would like to highlight the pioneering efforts of Florida’s Alachua County Deputy Sheriff, Ryan Lee Scott, who is the winner of the 2017 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ .
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 1.2 million Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers work in the United States [DOJ 2011, 2012]. These officers are required to train regularly in the use of firearms, typically at indoor firing ranges, and are often exposed to impulsive sounds that exceed the occupational health limits of 140 decibels (dB), with sound levels often reaching 160-170 dB peak sound pressure levels [NIOSH 2014].
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has an active firing range program that includes various research efforts on the effects of impulse noise from firearms on hearing and several health hazard evaluations that examined exposures and provided recommendations to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Many challenges remain to implement hearing loss prevention programs and best practices to reduce hazardous exposures in the law enforcement community. These include: fragmentation of resources and guidelines across agencies and police departments, lack of uniform national safety and health standards, and lack of proper training and educational programs on hearing loss and its effects on hearing health and performance.
The “Firearms Training and Hearing Loss” Program
Deputy Sheriff Scott recognized the potential risks that firearms qualification posed to his hearing health early in his career. Law enforcement firearms training takes place for eight hours four times a year for standard patrol officers, every month for the typical special teams or SWAT team member, and up to 20 times a month for the agency’s firearms instructors. In each eight hour session, an officer could accrue hundreds to thousands of rounds of exposure to firearms impulse noise. Typically officers are provided little to no…Click here to read the rest of the blog post.