HearSaf 2000 History

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UAW/Ford National Joint Committee on Health and Safety


Background of HearSāf 2000

The HearSāf 2000 project began as a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the UAW-Ford Motor Company National Joint Committee on Safety and Health, James, Anderson & Associates, and the Hawkwa Group. Normally, the CRADA mechanism is used to support technology transfer from the government to the private sector. In the case of HearSāf 2000, however, CRADA partners are exchanging technology and developing new technologies for the prevention of occupational hearing loss.

The purpose of this partnership was to develop a software solution to the nagging problem that plagues many hearing conservation programs today, namely, the lack of a uniform mechanism for coordinating the vast amounts of HCP data. Most hearing conservation programs collect a lot of information such as noise exposures, hearing protectors issued, training provided or completed, and audiograms. However, these data are seldom used in a coordinated and interlinked manner. Thus, while an audiometric technician may have an audiogram, without access to all previous audiograms, the validity of the audiogram can't be determined and threshold shift can't be assessed. Without access to hearing protector information, whether or not the worker is adequately protected from noise can't be answered. And, more often than not, information about exposures is not accessible.

Presently, program managers have difficulty assessing information to see if interventions are effective. They find that often they are seeing workers with threshold shift without the ability to determine why. When asked how effective is the hearing conservation program, they are hard pressed to provide an answer. For the epidemiologist studying exposures, controls, and outcomes, the situation is worse because many of the intervening variables that with control the answers to research questions are not assessable, much less identifiable.

The HearSāf 2000 suite of software supports hearing loss prevention at all levels. It will give power to the audiometric technician to see if a new audiogram is valid, to assess for threshold shift, to evaluate the effectiveness of hearing protectors, to see the progress being made to reduce each worker's exposures, and to make sure that each worker's training is appropriate and current. The HearSāf 2000 suite will allow the program manager to get a complete overview of the hearing loss prevention program at any time, making it easier to both gauge the effectiveness of interventions and accurately assess the overall hearing loss prevention program elements. The epidemiologist will be able to study many topics because necessary information will be available. HearSāf 2000 aims to provide an internationally accepted database structure so that researchers around the world can have access to a common database. Additionally, it will become the foundation of a national hearing conservation data registry, allowing individual companies to easily contribute data to cross-industry epidemiologic studies.

HearSāf 2000 CRADA Partners:

[UAW/Ford National Joint Committee on Health and Safety]

[James Anderson & Associates]

[The Hawkwa Group]