To kick off National Hearing Awareness Week, 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety announced its sponsorship of the Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow program, an initiative of the WA-based Grow Smart Foundation. This noise awareness program is targeted specifically at adolescents.
Julia Norris, Grow Smart President stated, “This generous sponsorship from 3M will significantly boost our efforts to educate children about noise and the importance of safe listening practices, and to make healthy hearing a way of life for today’s youth. We are now able to hire a part-time coordinator/ facilitator, which will enable us to initially grow this program in West Australian schools.
“We are grateful to 3M for their support and hope to garner additional funding from other businesses and government, which will enable us to hopefully expand the Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow program nationally.”
David Duguid, General Manager for 3M Australia’s Safety, Security and Personal Protection Business said, “3M is delighted to announce our support for this program during National Hearing Awareness Week, especially since the Week’s theme is Access all Ages. Hearing loss is sometimes perceived as a problem for older people, but research shows that 18 percent of teenagers have already sustained permanent hearing loss.”
This innovative noise awareness program aims to demonstrate the effects of playing in-ear listening devices such as MP3 players, mobile phones and iPods at dangerously high volumes over time. To date, the program has found that eight out of ten school children tested are playing their in-ear listening devices too loud.
Mr Duguid said, “We have become a major sponsor of this initiative because the aim of the Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow Program is a perfect fit with 3M’s mission to provide ingenious and practical solutions to our customers and to the public at large, in the areas of noise and hearing protection.”
A Certified Occupational Hygienist and resident who is a recipient of the Professional Hygienist of the Year Award from the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygiene, Ms Norris devised the Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow program after identifying an alarming trend amongst young apprentices, who upon entering the workforce, were already showing signs of noise induced hearing loss.
The centrepiece of Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow is an interactive school workshop specifically targeted towards students in the age group of 12-13 years. The one-hour workshop delivered at no cost, encourages the students to bring their own in-ear listening devices for testing.
The latest multimedia technology is used to capture the students’ attention and make the session memorable. As an example, the presenter uses an ear and cheek simulator to measure the noise output from the student’s listening devices. This measurement is then plugged into a hearing loss simulator to demonstrate how things will sound after 20 years of listening to noise of that volume on a daily basis.
To date, this innovative program has been delivered exclusively by volunteers to over 500 WA school children.
The Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow program has been officially endorsed by the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists and by the Deafness Council of WA.