NIOSH logo and tagline

NIOSH and NHCA present 2016 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™

February 18, 2016
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Nura Sadeghpour (202) 245-0673

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA), is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Awards™, honoring companies that have shown dedication to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss through excellent practices in the work environment. NIOSH Director, Dr. John Howard, M.D., will present the awards at the 2016 Annual Hearing Conservation Conference on February 19th, in San Diego, California.

“Efforts to prevent the effects of noise can be frustrating and while many workplaces comply with obligatory requirements and implement recommended interventions, reports of the effectiveness of these actions are rare,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The recipients of the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ are pioneers who invested in innovative approaches – some surprising simple and easy to implement-to address the persistent work-related condition that is hearing loss.”

The environmental health and safety staff and workers at 3M Alexandria are the 2016 recipients of the Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award™ in manufacturing. The 3M Alexandria plant produces a variety of industrial abrasives products used to grind, blend, polish, sand, prep, cut, clean or repair surfaces.

Starting in 2011 3M Alexandria received corporate support to reduce noise exposures and the need for their workers to be enrolled in a hearing conservation program throughout their facility. Noise levels were so successfully reduced (12 – 14 dBA across 24 different areas and departments), that 199 of 203 employees are no longer required to be in the 3M Alexandria Hearing Conservation Program.

The 3M Alexandria plant is recognized for their all-inclusive and systematic, statistically driven noise exposure assessments, cost-effective noise reduction projects, the documentation of cost and noise reduction results, and the implementation of a Buy-Quiet principles. In addition, they have maintained a high quality audiometric testing and hearing protection selection and fitting program for those few employees that remain exposed to noise. 3M Alexandria’s success story demonstrates that noise control is desirable, achievable, and economical in both short and long term.

One innovation award will also be given to John Casali and the Auditory Systems Laboratory, Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA), recognized for their unique work that combines human factors engineering with acoustics and audiology to solve research questions in many aspects of auditory perception and hearing health. Its impact extend beyond hearing loss prevention into safety. Their initiatives to study the user’s ability to hear, perceive, and respond to important auditory stimuli in their environments are recognized as innovative and broad reaching, and are considered critical to the improvement of hearing protection devices and the safety of their wearers.

The practical range of strategies covered by the Safe-in-Sound award recipients provide needed guidance on how to achieve effectiveness in hearing loss prevention to the wider research community. Their presentations can be seen at In addition, past and current recipients will cover their strategies in detail at the round table “Noise Can Be Beat” at the 2016 American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition (AIHce) in May 2016.

Nominations for the next awards will be accepted until July 15, 2016. For further information please visit

NIOSH recommends removing hazardous noise from the workplace whenever possible and implementing an effective hearing loss prevention program in those situations where dangerous noise exposures have not yet been controlled or eliminated. For more information about noise and hearing loss prevention research at NIOSH please visit and

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH. More information about NIOSH can be found at