mentation and prevention of occupational hazards. Centrally managed from Coast Guard headquarters, it was determined to be unsuccessful (McConnell, 2004). In 1998, the Coast Guard established a new program called the Occupational Medical Surveillance and Evaluation Program, a physical examination program intended to monitor the health of personnel in jobs designated as having high health risk potential as a result of exposure to chemical or physical agents. The Coast Guard hearing conservation program is one of 14 medical examination protocols in the Occupational Medical Surveillance and Evaluation Program, which helps track audiogram appointments for enrollees to facilitate follow-up.
As with the military services described above, the Coast Guard hearing conservation program requires identification of hazardous noise sources, determination of personnel exposed, application of engineering methods to abate noise, hearing protection and education for those exposed to hazardous noise, and employee monitoring through annual audiometric testing. U.S. Public Health Service officers and Coast Guard line officers serve as Safety and Environmental Health Officers at Coast Guard headquarters and in each of the nine Coast Guard districts. They are responsible for carrying out the sound-level surveys and noise dosimetry necessary to determine which vessels and other work sites necessitate enrollment in the hearing conservation program. Audiometry and other medical aspects of the hearing conservation program are carried out by a different group within the directorate (personal communication, W. McConnell, U.S. Coast Guard, February 10, 2005, and February 23, 2005; McConnell, 2004, 2005). Criteria and guiding documents for the Coast Guard hearing conservation program are shown in Table 5-1.
The Coast Guard does not yet formally participate in DOEHRS-HC. DoD forms 2215 and 2216 or similar forms for recording baseline and monitoring audiogram data are filed in an individual’s medical folder.
Although there is general consensus concerning the necessary components of a hearing conservation program (several authors, cited by Royster and Royster, 1990), there is less agreement regarding how to assess the effectiveness of a program. Several approaches have been proposed, among them the use of checklists to assess the presence of important program components and the use of audiometric databases for population and criteria comparisons.