Occupational Medical Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OMSEP)

Occupational Medical Surveillance and Evaluation Program (OMSEP) refers to a physical examination program established to monitor the health of Coast Guard personnel working in jobs designated as having high health risk potential to chemical or physical agents. The purpose of the program is to enable the Coast Guard to anticipate, and thereby minimize occupational illness among our members. In coordination with environmental health field professionals, information from the OMSEP is used to modify operations so that employee exposure is minimized. OMSEP also serves as a historical repository of information on personnel exposed to potentially hazardous environmental conditions and is used for studies directed toward a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of prevention.

OMSEP's objectives are to:

  • Identify physiological changes related to workplace exposure so that environmental health professionals can quickly investigate and mitigate any overexposures.
  • Identify occupationally induced diseases at a very early stage prior to permanently incapacitating illness or death.
  • Reduce personnel and financial costs related to occupationally-induced disease.
  • Identify pre-existing health conditions which, if undetected, would place an individual at increased risk if assigned to a high hazard job.

Often we are asked why some personnel are monitored while others are not.

Certain occupations require mandatory monitoring by federal statute, DOT regulations or Commandant instructions. For instance, a person must be monitored if they are actively engaged for 30 or more days per calendar year as a resident inspector, pollution investigator, marine safety (general), port safety (general), vessel inspector or marine investigator, unless an industrial hygienist evaluation can show that there is no over exposure.

Also, a person is considered occupationally exposed (for medical monitoring purposes) if they are actively engaged in ANY Coast Guard occupation where an industrial hygiene evaluation has shown that exposure to chemical or physical hazards exceeds 50% of the Coast Guard exposure standard without regard to the use of respirators for 30 or more days per calendar year, or exceeds the Coast Guard radiation exposure limits.

The Coast Guard exposure standard for health hazardous chemicals and physical energies is either OSHA's permissible exposure limits (PEL) as published in 29 CFR 1910 or the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist's (ACGIH) threshold limit values (TLVs), whichever is the more stringent.

Special programs have been created for lead, asbestos, benzene and noise exposures with specific criteria to be considered when evaluating for medical monitoring. These criteria can be found in Chapter 12 of the Medical Manual COMDTINST 6000.1.

Determining who is monitored is the responsibility of the environmental health professionals. OMSEP enrollments are based on exposure data gathered by industrial hygienists. Data are either specific to individual exposures or can be historical in nature, which means that not every exposure needs to be assessed but rather can be evaluated and compared to past similar assessments. Occasionally environmental health professionals are approached by personnel desiring to be entered into the OMSEP program based on past exposures where no data or documentation exists in their health records. To be considered for enrollment under these circumstances the member must fill out a CG-5197 Occupational Health Surveillance Questionnaire which will be reviewed by the Health & Safety Environmental Health Branch along with all historical data available. A decision to enroll will only be made when, according to published guidelines, there is sufficient evidence that an over exposure has occurred.

Units should ensure that enrolled personnel receive timely and complete OMSEP physical examinations. Assigning an OMSEP coordinator to facilitate the examinations and ensure that all follow-up tests and administrative requirements are completed is the units best method of assuring their personnel stay up to date.

When in doubt as to whether a member should be monitored or for any other questions regarding OMSEP, contact KMC at 508-968-6572

To schedule an OMSEP physical exam contact KMC at 508-968-6572

Hearing Conservation Program (HCP)

Noise exposure is by far the most common occupational exposure in the Coast Guard, warranting a special program known as the Hearing Conservation Program (HCP) under the umbrella of the OMSEP. The purpose of the HCP is to identify the onset of a hearing Threshold Shift before the individual experiences hearing loss sufficient to interfere with verbal communication. Early detection of hearing loss allows aggressive protective action to be taken before permanent hearing loss occurs.

Personnel at your unit should be monitored in the HCP if:

They work for 30 or more days per calendar year in a hazardous noise environment. In general, this would include all engine room and most small boat crew personnel. A hazardous noise environment is one in which employee noise exposures equal or exceed an 8 hour time weighted average (TWA) continuous sound pressure level of greater than 84 decibels as measured on the (A) scale.

To determine noise levels for other locations call your local environmental health professional as it requires special equipment and training. Their last valid audiogram exceeds 35 decibels in either ear in the 500, 1000, 2000, or 3000 Hz. ranges.

Units should ensure that personnel assigned to duties in a designated hazardous noise environment are enrolled in the HCP and receive an audiogram within 90 days of that assignment and annually thereafter until reassigned.