OSHA Drops Proposal on Occupational Noise

02.14.2011
HR & Safety

OSHA has withdrawn its proposed interpretation of the occupational noise standard. Published in the Federal Register last October, the interpretation would have clarified the term “feasible and administrative engineering controls” as currently used in the standard.

Hearing loss caused by excessive noise levels remains a serious occupational health problem in this country, says OSHA. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. In 2008 alone, BLS reported more than 22,000 hearing loss cases.

However, it’s clear from concerns raised about the proposal that addressing the problem requires more public outreach and more resources than originally anticipated, says OSHA. The agency is sensitive to the possible costs associated with improving worker protection and has decided to suspend work on the proposed modification while it studies other approaches to abating workplace noise hazards.

As part of this effort, OSHA will conduct a review of comments that have been submitted, hold a stakeholder meeting on preventing occupational hearing loss, and consult with experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Academy of Engineering. Also planned is a “robust outreach and compliance assistance effort” to share information on the many inexpensive, effective engineering controls for dangerous noise levels.

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