American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
October 22, 2010

OSHA Issues Proposed Compliance Changes For Occupational Noise Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a proposed interpretation [PDF] to its General Industry and Construction Occupational Noise Exposure standards, which would define the word "feasible" to reflect it's plain meaning of "capable of being done". This interpretation will make the enforcement of OSHA's noise standard consistent with the Agency's approach to all other health and safety standards.

Under the noise standard, employers must use administrative or engineering controls rather than personal protective equipment to reduce noise exposures that are above acceptable levels when such controls are feasible. For many years, feasible had been interpreted by the Agency in an economic, cost-benefit sense rather than its plain meaning. Under the proposed interpretation, OSHA would now consider administrative or engineering controls economically feasible when the cost of implementing such controls will not threaten the employer's ability to remain in business, or if such a threat to viability results from the employer's failure to meet industry safety and health standards.

OSHA is accepting comments on the proposed interpretation through December 20, 2010. For additional information, contact Ingrida Lusis, ASHA's director of federal and political advocacy, at  

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