A gift of $6,535 from Diverse Power in La-Grange has enabled Well- Star West Georgia Worx to purchase audiometric equipment so it can perform precise onsite hearing evaluations for businesses and companies in west Georgia and east Alabama.
WellStar West Georgia Worx has provided Diverse Power with occupational medicine services for the past several years, including various employee health screenings to help Diverse Power maintain compliance with federal and state guidelines, said Glenn Cunningham, Diverse Power’s environmental health and safety coordinator.
“I’ve worked with Bob Carlson, Worx’s program director, for several years now,” Cunningham said. “I’ve always been impressed with his team and how they truly listen to our concerns, evaluate our needs and provide the right services we need to keep our employees healthy and safe.”
“Worx has been able to provide just about everything we’ve needed to be compliant with state and federal guidelines, except for the audiograms our employees must have every year to be sure noise exposure at work isn’t affecting their hearing,” he said. “Bob told me it was on his wish list for Worx to provide OSHA-compliant hearing screenings, but that it wasn’t in his budget right now to buy the equipment he needed.”
That’s when Cunningham had the idea to give Worx the means to perform audiograms—not only for his own company, but also for the other businesses and companies that Worx serves. Through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s hearing conservation program, industries with a certain noise level must provide a baseline hearing test and subsequent annual hearing exams to employees.
“We’re really pleased we’ve been able to provide such a valuable resource to West Georgia Worx,” Cunningham said, “and we’re so glad other businesses can benefit from it.”
Carlson said because of the gift, the Worx team already has performed 500 audiograms, including ones at Diverse Power and two manufacturing companies. Another company has scheduled the screening for 200 of its employees, and another business in nearby Franklin has scheduled 300.
“What Diverse Power has provided for us will reach at least 1,000 employees just this year,” Carlson said. “What’s so powerful about their generosity is that it extends so far beyond Diverse Power’s own employees.”
Julie Trusty, clinical supervisor at Worx, is a trained audiometric screening technician through the Council for Accreditation in Occupational Hearing Conservation. She said the pure tone audiometer Worx now uses can identify the hearing threshold levels of an individual, enabling determination of the degree, type and configuration of a hearing loss, which provides the basis for diagnosis and management.
“The beauty of our new equipment is that in the past, area industries would have to contract employee audiograms through other occupational medicine providers that performed their hearing screenings in booths housed in a mobile test van that would come onsite,” Trusty said. “The noise of a van running can automatically give a false reading, so not only were they sometimes inaccurate, but the company also would have to pay to retest a good number of employees.”
The new audiometric equipment from Diverse Power, however, automatically pauses when it senses any outside noise.
“Our equipment is so precise that if it were in a van, it wouldn’t work because it would pick up the hum of the motor,” Trusty said.
Trusty said she’s a firm believer in the screenings because they help prevent hearing loss and also give her a chance to educate employees on the importance of protecting their hearing.
“Sometimes we find possible hearing loss, and when we ask more pointed questions about a person’s life outside work, we might find some of the younger workers don’t think about protecting their hearing when they go to a lot of loud concerts, or someone’s hobby might be guns and targetshooting,” she said. “It gives us a chance to let them know they need to protect their hearing not just at work.”