February 2, 2011

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA Withdraws Proposed Interpretation on Occupational Noise

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has withdrawn its proposed interpretation for the use of  administrative and engineering controls  related to occupational noise standards, but has signaled its intent to find other approaches to reduce the incidence of work-related hearing loss. The Agency received criticism on its proposed interpretation from both industry and Congress. The original proposal would have clarified that hearing conservation programs would need to include noise controls (administrative or engineering) when economically and technologically feasible for employees exposed at or above the permissible exposure limits.

Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common occupational disease and the second most self-reported occupational illness or injury, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Approximately 22 million American workers are sometimes exposed to high levels of noise on the job making it one of the most common occupational diseases in the U.S.

ASHA supported OSHA's  proposed interpretation and will continue to work with OSHA on this issue. For additional information, contact Ingrida Lusis, ASHA's Director of Federal and Political Advocacy at ilusis@asha.org.


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