Affected industries include metals, stone, wood, meat, dairies, bakeries

OSHA has launched a new outreach and enforcement regional emphasis program targeting the hazards of high noise levels in various manufacturing industries in New England. The regional emphasis program will focus on workplaces engaged in the manufacturing and fabrication of metal, plastic, stone, and wood products, as well as meat, dairy, and bakery production.

"Hearing loss is a serious matter," says Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. "Exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected through surgery. To prevent that from happening to workers, we are encouraging employers to explore and pursue better safeguards for their employees against everyday workplace noise hazards."

The program will identify and inspect workplaces with high noise levels and provide outreach to employers. OSHA will conduct the outreach and targeted enforcement phases of the regional emphasis program concurrently to raise awareness among employers and employees about the hazards associated with exposure to high levels of noise activities.

Approximately 22 million workers nationwide are exposed to potentially damaging noise yearly, and thousands of workers annually suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 20,000 cases of work-related hearing loss. OSHA offers information about noise hazards here.