United States Army Do to Improve Term Paper

Pages: 20 (7293 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

¶ … United States Army

Do to Improve on Enforcing Hearing Protection Standards

To Reduce Hearing Loss Among Soldiers

Nearly one third of the close to thirty million Americans with hearing loss today can attribute their disability to what has been deemed as 'toxic noise.' With a loss of hearing, humans cannot fully function in their environments. The working surroundings are by far the biggest culprit to the problem as many Americans have lost their hearing while working in steel mills and mines. "According to OSHA enforcement policy, employers must record work-related shifts in hearing of an average of 25 dB or more at 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 hertz in either ear. In January 2001, OSHA proposed changing this trigger for a recordable injury to 10 dB. In July, however, OSHA said it was reconsidering the change because "Congress intended the recordkeeping system to capture non-minor injuries and illnesses. OSHA is reconsidering the finding that a 10 dB shift in hearing acuity represents such a health condition." (Minter, 2002)

However, another very large percentage of those individuals who have lost their hearing have lost it while serving in the various branches of the United States Armed Forces. "Military personnel deal with so much noise that 22,000 disability claims are filed each year because of Hearing loss." (NewScientist.com news service, 2002) This report attempts to understand hearing loss and to also make suggestions regarding the United States Army's problem that revolves around the situational question of what can be done to help improve upon the ability to enforce hearing protection standards in order to reduce hearing loss among soldiers. "Localization represents a fundamental auditory skill that contributes to survival by indicating the presence and position of mates, prey, and enemies. Moreover, identification of sound source positions is an intimate part of modern-day orientation and surveillance of the environment. The ability to accurately localize and quickly identify the position of potential hazards is critical in combat and in many of today's work environments. (Vause & Grantham, 1999)

The military has been contending with this issue throughout its history and the current war in Iraq will only intensify the situation regarding soldiers suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus. Soldiers returning from the battle field feel that they are not the same in many more ways than one when they return. "Mateo wound up in Walter Reed's psych ward, where doctors diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder. "I lost my humanity in Iraq," says Mateo, who had to pull a headless Iraqi shot by American soldiers from a truck. "I didn't come back the same." His wounds include hearing loss, shrapnel in his head and shoulder, five bulging disks on his neck, and a herniated disk in his back." (Cannon et al., 2004)

Explosions from mines and hand grenades or munitions, small arms firing, helicopter and cargo carrier travel, armored vehicle and ATV travel are just a few of the thousands of potential causes of hearing loss or tinnitus. The military must also consider causes that are from natural sources such as human born diseases and even insects bites. All of these situations could occur while soldiers are on duty - but, the military forces must also consider soldiers who are off duty? "But today, a growing source of hearing impairment is the tools and toys of recreation. Americans are pounding their ears with gas-powered leaf blowers and high-amplified stereos, with NASCAR races and 1,875-watt hair dryers, even, remarkably, with children's playthings." (Couzin & Terrell, 1999) as noted, this report attempts to understand hearing loss and its causes and to make suggestions regarding the inherent problems the United States Army's faces as they improve the ability to enforce hearing protection standards in order to reduce hearing loss among soldiers.

This report therefore attempts to understand hearing loss and to also make suggestions regarding what can be done to help improve upon the ability of enforcing hearing protection standards in order to reduce hearing loss among soldiers.

What Can the United States Army

Do to Improve on Enforcing Hearing Protection Standards

To Reduce Hearing Loss Among Soldiers

Introduction

This report attempts to understand hearing loss and to also make suggestions regarding the United States Army's issues concerning what can be done to help improve upon the ability to enforce hearing protection standards in order to reduce hearing loss among soldiers. In the civilian forum, hearing failure issues, concerns and compliance are dealt with by with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA. The civilian environment in the United States has established hearing conservation standards that are intended to ensure that any employee is not subject to suffering from hearing loss due to his or her exposure to toxic noise in the work place. "Health and safety people are being required to justify their programs on a rolling basis in a business context, so the whole issue of just doing something for compliance and going through the motions doesn't count anymore." (Minter, 2002) of course it is often the case that hearing health experts feel that existing civilian hearing conservation standards are not meeting the needs of the employee and they therefore advocate new occupational safety and health measures for employers to focus more on prevention of hearing loss as opposed to their simply complying with existing standards.

That is all well and good for the civilian world, but there is no equivalent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the military world other than existing standard operating procedures and temporary review and investigation committees. Like the civilian arena, it is crucial for the United States Army to follow the lead established by OSHA where soldiers are first educated and thus made to understand how important the ability to hear is for their lives. In the majority of the cases known, noise-induced hearing loss was preventable. Soldiers must be made to no longer take their hearing for granted and therefore recognize its overall value before it is too late and the hearing capabilities are lost. But all military branches of service must be made to recognize and understand the big picture of the problem so that the concept and related ideas of hearing loss prevention can be circulated through the ranks from the highest General to the lowest private.

The upper echelon of ranking officials must be privy to the overall cost associated with hearing loss and lost communication as well as the other safety risk factors soldiers face once they have lost their ability to consciously hear. "Noise-induced hearing loss is a significant unmet socioeconomic problem in industrial societies. It is estimated that 30 million individuals are exposed to injurious levels of noise each day, contributing significantly to the overall cost of hearing loss in the nation of $56B per year. In addition to loud noise of various types, many pathological conditions affecting the inner ear, such as traumatic injury, toxins, aging, infection, and some genetic conditions may be associated with the excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to oxidative stress." (PR Newswire, 2003)

Consider that we as a nation in the twenty-first century will need to administratively handle and pay for hearing loss cases and concerns from the 1940's. Currently, the Veterans Administration process which includes both the administrative and hospital systems are still having to contend with hearing loss suffered by soldiers that served in World War II. The United States national debt crisis is all but staggering -- any burden such as hearing loss disability pay for soldiers who have served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Dessert Storm and the various other conflicts could overwhelm the Veterans Administrative budget unnecessarily considering that the system has to also contribute to each soldiers hearing loss problems individually.

Unfortunately, the United States Army has not been overly proactive when it has come to dealing with the inherent problems associated with the loss of its soldiers hearing. Many veterans of all of the branches of service have publicly denounced the support and efforts of the armed forces in assisting them once hearing loss occurred. The Veterans Administration hospital and medical assistance programs have been dubbed equally ineffective. There are few to no proactive programs that are geared in the Army to proactively reduce or completely prevent hearing loss due from the many causes, especially toxic noise exposure. Education programs are not well thought out and simply ordering each soldier to wear protective hearing devices has not proven effective over the course of the long run.

Like the civilian problem of having employers only conform to a standard and therefore not making the concerted efforts needed to prevent hearing loss, the United States Army is in a position where they could reevaluate the entire toxic noise and other causes of hearing loss and establish viable preventative methods.

Hearing loss

Most people have an idea of what hearing is but relatively few individuals know exactly what hearing loss is or the causes associated to it. Hearing loss or hearing impairment can occur when there are… [END OF PREVIEW]

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