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Monday, May 2, 2016

Hearing Protection

“Final check for ears and eyes!” The firearms instructor shouts those directions as she verifies that all of the officers on the shooting range have their hearing and eye protection in place. A nod from the safety officer confirms that everyone has their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) on. Only after that confirmation does the instructor move on to the day’s firearms training or qualification. That ritual is so routine that most officers do not even think about it—it’s automatic.

But what about the safety check for PPE before an officer shoots an injured animal such as a deer that has been hit by car? Often those same officers forget or don’t think about using their safety equipment when they are not at the range. Why? Are they in a hurry, or do they not have the equipment with them in the squad car?

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) officer injury statistics don’t tell us why, but they do tell us that many officers report hearing injures on these calls when hearing protection was not used. In addition to the officer shooting, it is sometimes an officer standing nearby that reports being injured.

The solution:

  • Make sure every officer has quick access to hearing and eye protection. Whether it is part of the squad car’s standard equipment or individually issued to the officer, this safety equipment has uses beyond the firearms range.
  • Follow the same procedures and use the exact same words used at the shooting range when shooting an animal. “Final check for ears and eyes” should be loudly announced so all officers can get their safety equipment on and prepare for the shot.
  • Designate an officer to be the safety officer to verify everyone has their PPE in place and to watch over the entire scene. It is very easy to be focusing on the animal with no one watching the big picture, including the perimeter or traffic.
Repeating the same words used at the range and having access to the proper PPE can reduce these unnecessary injuries. Eye and hearing protection is not limited only to one location.

Up Next: New Online LMCIT Public Safety Resources

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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