Occupational hearing conservationists (OHCs)work in industries where workers are frequently exposed to loud noises, such as mining, construction, and manufacturing. These are industries where it's impossible to completely eliminate noise. Because of this, it's important to monitor employees for signs of noise-induced hearing loss. That's the role of the OHC, who is tasked with making sure that employees aren't losing their hearing because of the work that they perform.
OHCs need to be certified by the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation, which is an organization that creates a curriculum that teaches OHCs everything they need to know to protect workers' hearing. Successfully completing the exam at the end of the course will give you a CAOHC certification, enabling you to work in the field. If you're interested in preserving employee hearing in the workplace, read on to learn what you'll learn in a CAOHC certification course.
Performing Hearing Tests
As an OHC, one of your most important roles is to perform hearing tests on employees using an audiometer. During a CAOHC certification course, you'll learn how to calibrate an audiometer, how to explain the hearing test to employees and how to conduct the hearing test itself.
You'll also learn how to create audiograms during the hearing test. An audiometer plays tones to the employee through a pair of headphones. The employee alerts you when they're able to hear the tone, and you record the pitch and volume of the tone on the audiogram. Audiograms are valuable records that are able to show how well an employee is able to hear.
During a CAOHC certification course, you'll undergo a practicum segment where you'll have the chance to demonstrate your ability to perform a hearing test using an audiometer and record an audiogram correctly. This gives you valuable hands-on experience working with an audiometer and allows the course instructor to make sure you're able to create accurate audiograms.
Protecting Employee Hearing
Another important role that an OHC plays is to protect employee hearing while they're working. In a CAOHC certification course, you'll learn about types of hearing protection devices such as headphones and earplugs. You'll learn how to pick the right size for employees so that they'll fit correctly and provide maximum protection, and you'll also learn how to clean and store them when they're not in use.
Proper use of hearing protection devices helps to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, which occurs when employees are repeatedly exposed to loud noises. By dampening the noise with properly fitting hearing protection, you reduce the risk that employees' hearing will be damaged because of their jobs.
Escalating to Medical Professionals
While OHCs play an important role in performing hearing tests and helping employees protect their hearing, they're not medical professionals. During CAOHC certification, you'll learn when employees need to be referred to a doctor for a more thorough examination of their hearing. You'll learn how to spot audiograms that warrant a medical referral, and you'll also learn what symptoms employees can experience that suggest they need to be referred to a doctor.
Keeping Records of Employee Audiograms
Finally, you'll also learn how to properly organize and keep a record of employee audiograms. It's important to frequently test employee hearing in order to ensure that they're not experiencing noise-induced hearing loss. Keeping a record of audiograms lets you see past audiograms and compare them to current ones. If an employee's audiogram is getting worse, it's a sign that they need to be referred to a doctor and your employer needs to take stronger measures to reduce noise levels in the workplace.
Overall, CAOHC certification courses give you all the knowledge you need in order to fulfill all of your job duties as an occupational hearing conservationists. You'll learn how to administer hearing tests and protect employee hearing while they're on the job, and you'll also learn to spot potential danger signs of an employee experiencing hearing damage. If you're interested in protecting employee hearing in the workplace as a career, look for CAOHC certification courses — many can be done completely online, and they'll give you the skills you need to succeed in the field.