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National Conference to Prevent Hearing Loss in Construction:


Address: Preventing Hearing Loss in the Construction Trades: A Best Practices Conference

Chief, Office of Health Communication and Public Liaison
National Institute on Deafness and Communications Disorders

Alternate description

DR. ALLEN: I know that for some of you, you have become aware of the WISE EARS! Campaign at different times and at different places and in different phases. Scott Schneider has been with us from the beginning, and Lee Hager and Sally Lusk and obviously our wonderful partner at NIOSH, the entire staff at NIOSH led by Max Lum.

I wanted to let you know a little bit about the background of the campaign, and then talk about some very specific new initiatives that are going to be happening in the next month.

The first slide you are going to see is one of four [WISE EARS!] owls. You probably have become familiar with [at least] one of our owl images. The intent of the campaign was to first take a complicated algorithm or a series of complicated algorithms that had been sort of the thing that kept the information that we are trying to get to the worker and to the public from their understanding of the topic -- that they could be exposed to a noisy level for a long period of time and have hearing loss or they could be exposed to a very loud level for a very short length of time and have hearing loss.

We are talking about a population as we work together with NIOSH that includes kids, teachers, parents, the general public, health professionals, hearing health professionals, as well as people in all of the allied trades and unions. It [WISE EARS!] was designed to be a national collaboration and is based on the idea that we get a strength from coalition, from partnership, and also from community.

Just to let you know how this all started. It started with congressional interest [slide of report language], and NIDCD suddenly had gotten its language: "You will head an effort to look at noise-induced

hearing loss in the public and the worker, and you will talk to NIOSH and NIEHS." That is sort of challenging when you first see that kind of language as a Government agency because you are calling another

agency with another chain of command. The fortunate thing was -- it was NIOSH. We had a lot in common in terms of our concerns and interests, and that part was easy.

We held a meeting of potential partners, and I named some of the folks who were here who were part of that national first effort to look at whether or not we could build a coalition and whether or not this was the right time for it [a coalition] and what kind of a message we would craft to work with a variety of publics. [We wanted] to look at both the public and the worker and the worker who is the member of the public when he or she is not a worker. We were fortunate enough to get a front-page Washington Post article that talked about the coalition over that same weekend.

The coalition now includes 70-plus organizations, and I will let you know who they all are [refers to slides listing all 70+ organizations]. They include Federal, State, local agencies, Unions, child health advocates, elder advocates, industry medical professional, and public organizations who are already concerned about noise-induced hearing loss protection.

I am going to run through because some of you are member of these organizations, our current partners, and add to them our newest members just in “the last couple of months:[including the new organizations]” Dallas Safety, Florida Atlantic University, Howard Light Industries, Iowa Department of Public Health, the Madigan Army Medical Center, Sight and Hearing Association, and 3M's Occupational Medicine Department. We are really in a race to keep up with the coalition list of members, and to serve them on a list_serve that we send out information every 2 months.

[Slide about launch activities] We launched the campaign July 4th weekend because it [the July 4th weekend] is something that has traditionally been associated with eye health. The press was interested in a different approach to safety over that weekend. It is also the launch for the beginning of the loud summer activities with Nascar, with fireworks and so forth.

We did satellite news interviews with Linda [Dr. Rosenstock and Jim [Dr. Battey] and media tours. It was picked up by about 9 million viewers across the country at this point, and they are still counting. Radio spots -- and just to prove that we also were workers, we had a message in the paychecks for all 59,000 people who work for the Department [DHHS].

A cover story [appeared] that we worked [with]

through U.S. News and World Report [on] over a period of time that mentioned many of our partners, and specifically the WISE EARS Campaign, and then to a Parade Magazine piece on recognizing hearing loss and the importance of it [slides of news coverage].

We had a piece in Consumer Reports which was a little more closely aligned to some of the industry concerns, again mentioning the WISE EARS! Campaign as a coalition. We were delighted because The Washington Post Health Page for Kids featured noise-induced hearing loss, and we think it is really important, particularly with the families of workers, that we reach kids.

We also did a “slick” [slide of advertising slick] that went out to a lot of organizations. They took it in exactly the form that it was offered. We had the National Hearing Conservation Association, A.G. Bell, among the organizations that used it. The Journal of the American Medical Association departed from their usual format using the WISE EARS! logo in the middle of their public page talking about the WISE EARS! Campaign for physicians.

We did a piece, a “pre-packaged piece called "Tips" with the WISE EARS! owl, and as of yesterday, we got a new report.” The WISE

EARS! owl has gone out to 1,200 newspapers and is in 32 States with a readership of 93 million.

We have exhibited WISE EARS! at these organizations [slide of exhibit locations], or will in the next month, and it includes some of the key organizations in terms of getting health messages out to health professionals. We did a continuing medical education workshop at the American Public Health Association for the first time. We are particularly looking forward to our time at the Pediatrics and Family Physicians coming up this summer. We are also going to the Urban League.

We launched a home page with an “Ask the Scientist” site and a Teachers web site. We will also be offering a Parent site, and a regular bimonthly list of coalition activities. A newsletters goes out by list_serve to all of the members of the coalition. We are trademarking or

service-marking the WISE EARS! title and owl etc. We are supposed to be getting the final confirmation of that. It [servicemark] is protected.

Some of the kinds of things that go out on those announcements [slide of items announced] each month are some of these activities, and I would remind you that the “League of Hard-of-Hearing” is doing its Noise

Awareness Day. That is a local and a national effort on April 12th.

Today’s meeting was announced by a special announcement to all the members of the list-serve in order that they be aware of the meeting here in Washington.

The home page allows you to travel in [slide of web menu and we have radio spots that are available to be downloaded from the page in an FTP format.

We have a Kids and Teachers page that is interactive. There is video that shows “How We Hear” and a piece on “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss” and “What Is Sound?” Then we did an “Ask the Scientist” piece that is partially interactive, where the kids ask the scientists, in this case, it is the director of the Institute, questions about noise-induced hearing loss or they ask Dr. Rosenstock about questions about workers and noise-induced hearing loss.

We announced a new player at the National Hearing

We are also looking at Spanish language, Hispanic, Latino/Latina audiences. Again, we are going to use Worcester as a base for the beginning of that operation with the Office of Hispanic Health, which has become one of our partners. We are going to do a Tips to the 500 newspapers that are published in Spanish in the United States, and that is going to be coming out in the next 2 months. We are going to be collaborating with this office on reaching industrial workers who are seasonal or who are not reached by traditional means.

Just to let you know, if you are not familiar with the Healthy People 2010 document (the longitudinal planning of health objectives for the country), noise-induced hearing loss occurs in several places in the document. There is a new chapter on “Vision and Hearing” and it is national recognition of the importance that hearing has for the public. It was the first time that [hearing] it was included as a major topic. The WISE EARS! coalition was featured in the announcement panel as a coalition and also in the APHA announcement of the Vision and Hearing chapter.

These are the elements, just so you know what the objectives are: Increase the use of appropriate ear protection devices, equipment, and practices; reduce noise-induced hearing loss in children and adolescents under 17; and reduce adult hearing loss in the noise-exposed public. The worker remains in the occupational safety and health chapter, but we are linked within the document by reference. In other words, the adult is a worker and the worker can be an adult. So we are also aligned in the document.

We want to thank the coalition panel members, some of whom are here with you today, who have been extremely helpful to us in framing the ideas for the coalition and in implementing the process.

I have mentioned a couple of times we are going to try something new, and we are going to do it in the first week in May in Worcester, Massachusetts, and at White Flint in Maryland. There is a movie theater in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is the only one that is an 18-theater multiplex, within the zip code area that could be profiled by the CDC for us as a population. There are 700 people who live in that community. There is a school that we have identified that has a third of the population in that school as Spanish-speaking as the first language.

We have many people who are involved in industry in that community, and we are paralleling it, the same project, at White Flint Mall, which is tangent to us, which has a very different profile, with several thousand people living in the zip code. It is a very upscale neighborhood. We are looking at the 800 number and the web site. We are going to do activities in the community at Worcester to see just how many of those people we can reach with a repeated message.

The slide that has been prepared for the movie theaters up there and here includes the worker slide, and it is designed to run three times. We have every movie of the 18 screens, three times for an entire month. The WISE EARS! owl slide message is going to come up. We are working with NIOSH to see how many more activities we can increase in the community there to try and bring a higher knowledge base from the general population for noise-induced hearing loss prevention and reach workers through their families.

The first run [feature] is a positive [for the campaign] because it also means the first run for family films and the first run for action films and the first run for dramatic films.

Please contact us with ideas. Contact us if you have ideas about Worcester or a community near you. We hope to come out of this with a plan for communities to work together to look at noise-induced hearing loss prevention—something we can distribute and make available.

We also have a grass-roots flier now that is something that any community, any teacher, anyone can go into their local community association or school and talk about noise-induced hearing loss with a fair amount of accuracy. It also refers back to all of the links that we have to every one of the organizations that are part of the coalition. In other words, if they come into our page to look at the coalition, they can go out to each one of the organizations to see what it is they have to offer about noise-induced hearing loss prevention.

The last slide is dB Owl with a construction helmet, and he is out in the lobby, if you would like to meet him a little more closely.

I am really grateful for the opportunity to talk to you all and to talk to you with Max and very grateful to Scott Schneider for his support for this initiative.

Thanks very much.


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