Over the past several months, we have followed and contributed to the debate around OSHA’s proposal to revert to the original interpretation and intent of the noise standard. This interpretation would require noise control (administrative or engineering) when economically and technologically feasible for employees exposed at or above the permissible exposure limit. The basis for this more rigorous enforcement was the continuing occurrence of permanent, significant hearing loss in employees; the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported 125,000 such cases since 2004.
In response to certain reactions to this proposed interpretation, OSHA has withdrawn this proposal, as of January 19, 2011. In their news release, they indicated that they were still committed to the goal of reducing the incidence of work-related hearing loss; they are suspending work on this policy modification while they study other approaches.
NHCA supported the proposed interpretation as a significant step towards our association’s primary mission: the prevention of hearing loss due to noise and other environmental factors in every sector of society. We will continue to support OSHA’s efforts to address the issue of work-related hearing loss.
Laura Kauth, M.A., CCC-A
Director of Communications, NHCA