February 22, 2024

Safe-in-Sound Awards Recognize Multinational Corporation and Army Lieutenant Colonel

Earlier this month, NIOSH announced the winners of the 2024 Safe-in-Sound Awards, which honor excellent hearing loss prevention practices and recognize organizations and individuals who demonstrate the benefits of these practices. The awards are given in two categories. This year, the winner of the Safe-in-Sound Award for Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention is the Dow Chemical Company, an American multinational corporation that has a presence in 160 countries. The recipient of the 2024 Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention Award is U.S. Army Lt. Col. Kara Cave, who is chief of the hearing program at Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

The Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award, which is given to companies that exceed normal expectations to protect workers’ hearing, recognizes Dow’s commitment to identifying and implementing solutions to high noise and communication challenges in its facilities. According to the awards announcement, part of the company’s strategy to change its workplace culture—which had not previously prioritized noise control—involved deploying “innovative solutions and mechanisms” to address the noise challenges faced by individual facilities. The company’s approach incorporates a variety of interventions, including reducing sound levels below NIOSH’s recommended 85-dBA limit for eight-hour noise exposures and completing multiple noise-control studies to identify all noise sources that affect worker exposure. Dow also adopted “buy-quiet” policies and practices.

Cave, the winner of the Safe-in-Sound Award for Innovation in Hearing Loss Prevention, is described by NIOSH as “a champion for evidence-based program advancements that have improved access to hearing healthcare and led to more positive outcomes for the people and organizations she serves.” Her efforts have resulted in management support and investment for clinical and program initiatives intended to prevent hearing loss among soldiers, evaluate their fitness for duty, and assess the effects of specialized hearing protectors on situational awareness. Cave joins previous recipients of the Innovation Award, which recognizes those who create innovative solutions to workplace hearing loss prevention challenges.

The Safe-in-Sound Award winners were formally recognized on Feb. 9 at the National Hearing Conservation Association’s annual conference. More information can be found in NIOSH’s announcement and the Safe-in-Sound website’s profiles of Dow and Cave.

Nominations for the 2025 Safe-in-Sound Awards are open. Instructions for submitting nominations are available on the Safe-in-Sound website.