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Skaneateles highway workers get ears tested

Employees in the town of Skaneateles' highway department work with loud equipment day in and day out, and one has to question how their hearing is affected after years of being in such a noisy environment.

Town councilwoman Ellen Kulik said there state Department of Labor is now requiring yearly hearing evaluations for those employees and to have the tests completed by an audiologist.

"Right now the Department of Labor is only requiring it of the highway departments," she said.

However, there has been a request by the Safety Committee for the town to require others who work with heavy and loud machinery, like the parks employees who use the large mowers to cut the grass, to undergo the same examinations.

The question remains if the health department will come in and completely the screenings or if the town will need to find a trained and licensed audiologist. Regardless of who does it, Kulik said the screenings must be done at least for the highway department employees.

"We need to set up a program. If we don't, we'll be in violation of the Department of Labor," she said. "They want hearing screenings yearly."

If the Department of Health came in and provided the screenings at no cost, or if there were an audiologist available who could do the same, Kulik said it would be a "beautiful thing." If the town cannot find someone to complete the testing for no money, it could turn into a costly mandate.

"BOCES may provide that service for us," said councilwoman Nancy Murray. BOCES has a program for audiology which could cost the town very little if anything should they go through that program for the hearing tests.

According to Kulik, because the Department of Labor has told the town it needs to provide these tests for its employees, there may be reimbursement from the state at some point.

The board approved for the highway department to have the annual hearing tests completed by an audiologist.

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