Army Hearing Program 
Routine exposure to hazardous noise can cause progressive hearing loss and threaten a Soldier's combat readiness. Hearing is a 360 degree warning sense and is essential for communication and for detection of sound at a distance. Poor hearing degrades a Soldier's performance.  When Soldiers preserve the ability to hear low-intensity sounds and speech we optimize readiness and Soldier survivability. The most potent and precious munition in the Army is the individual Soldier. Successful completion of a mission demands the best from everyone.  Army Regulation 40-5  (AR 40-5) requires an Army Hearing Program. Department of the Army Pamphlet 40-501 (DA PAM 40-501) provides guidance for implementation.

There are seven basic components of good hearing conservation. The commanders' major responsibilities are summarized under each:

 1) Noise Hazard Identification:  Contact your area Industrial Hygienist for technical assistance in determining hazard potential of noise sources. You can estimate hazard with the following rules of thumb:

  • If the noise is produced by weapons fire consider it hazardous.
  • If the noise is so loud you must raise your voice to be understood at a distance of 2 to 3 feet it is probably hazardous.

2) Engineering Controls:  Request noise reduction engineering from facilities engineers. When ordering new or replacement equipment, where feasible, specify that noise emissions be below 85 dBA.

3) Hearing Protectors:  This is the most important part of the Army Hearing Program and is controlled by the Commander. Ensure all sizes of triple flange preformed earplugs are available for issue and are properly fitted by trained personnel. Also keep disposable earplugs or noise muffs available. If the mission requires, ensure sound attenuating helmets are available and serviceable. Establish a unit policy that the earplug case containing earplugs will be worn as part of the Army Combat Uniform (ACU) when appropriate. Information regarding ordering and fitting of earplugs can be found in the Technical Guide 41.

4) Hearing Tests:  Annual hearing tests must be performed for noise exposed personnel in your unit. This ensures identification of hearing loss before it becomes too significant. Contact your local medical facility to schedule testing.

5) Health Education:  Noise exposed personnel are required to have annual training in hearing conservation. This can be conducted by the Army Hearing Program coordinator at your unit or at the testing facility by medically trained personnel.

6) Enforcement:  Use of hearing protection is mandatory; see AR 40-5 and DA PAM 40-501. When personnel take part in noise hazardous operations commanders must ensure hearing protection is available and used properly. Anyone failing to use hearing protection must be disciplined accordingly.

7) Program Evaluation:  An analysis of hearing test results is available to commanders from the Regional Army Hearing Program Officer. This information is invaluable in assessing the effectiveness of hearing conservation efforts and in focusing on problem areas that need attention. Army Regulation 40-5 requires commanders to appoint a Unit Army Hearing Program Manager. Training for the Unit Army Hearing Program Manager is provided by PHCR-Europe. It is a one-half day workshop designed to orient the participant to requirements and resources available. For details call the PHCR-Europe Army Hearing Program Consultant.