News: Marines stay battle-ready by preventing hearing loss
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Per Marine Administrative Message 010/12, active duty Marines aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., will now be required to complete annual hearing conservation training by May 5, 2012.
Some civilian employees working in environments with 84 decibels or higher will also be affected by the mandated training.
The purpose of the course is to educate and prevent hearing loss for those working aboard MCAS Miramar, explained David A. Frye, a safety and occupational health specialist with Station Safety aboard MCAS Miramar.
The training is a result of a Naval audit completed by the Marine Corps Hearing Conservation Program. The results found that many Marines were experiencing hearing loss at the end of their active-service.
“Every Marine is a rifleman, so studies were done by the industrial hygienists from the [Naval Medical Center San Diego] at the rifle range,” said Frye. “[Industrial hygienists] determined that the decibels from an M-16 [A4 service rifle] are well above 104 db, normally around 130 db, which could cause permanent hearing loss just from one [exposure].”
Frye explained that most hearing loss is preventable with the correct usage of ear protection.
“Properly fitting ear plugs prevent the ear from getting damaged,” said Frye. “Most of the time, the damage is to the ear drums. Many times, this is irreversible. We have young Marines, 19 to 21 years old, wearing hearing aids after leaving the Marine Corps. That is what drove all this hearing conservation stuff. Hearing loss is permanent.”
During the hearing conservation class, Frye demonstrated the proper technique for inserting hearing protection into the ear canal and explained that applying ear protection is more than just inserting foam into the ear canal.
In order to ensure a proper fit, two hands should be used. One hand inserts the rolled foam, while the other reaches over the head to pull back the outer ear to expand the ear canal opening. Once inserted, the foam should expand to fill the ear canal.
Unique to MCAS Miramar is VeriPRO, an ear protection measurement technology that allows users to gauge the efficiency of their ear protection. The VeriPRO fit testing program was put in place aboard the air station as a proactive safety measure.
For Marines working on the flightline or around heavy machinery, hearing loss can be a gradual occurrence.
“With other things, you can tell when something is wrong,” said Frye. “Hearing, you can’t tell until it is too late.”
Hearing loss can also be a direct hazard to Marines in combat. In a dangerous area, if a Marine hears “go” instead of “no,” they can risk their life and the lives of others. Similarly, if someone says “get back” and another Marine misunderstands it to be “attack,” they pose a great hazard to themselves and fellow service members, explained Frye.
“We need them to hear what is going on around them,” said Frye.
The class is important to take in order to stay mission ready. We must know what is going on around us, explained Sgt. Yaritza Perez, a bulk fuel specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron and an Orlando, Fla., native.
“You need to hear the enemy coming,” said Perez.
Working with the Marine Corps Forces Central Command at McDill Air Force Base prior to being stationed aboard MCAS Miramar, Perez has witnessed many Marines suffer from hearing loss.
“For young Marines [hearing protection] is not at the forefront of their concern,” said Perez. “But once it is gone, you can’t get it back.”
The course is offered monthly. To sign up for the annual training, interested participants can contact station safety at 858-577-1356.
Date Posted:04.24.2012 18:24
Location:MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, CA, US
Hometown:ORLANDO, FL, US
Hometown:SAN DIEGO, CA, US
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