Date: Nov 16, 1998
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard limiting exposure to noise in the workplace was last modified in 1983 by the hearing conservation amendment. That change allowed employers to use personal hearing protection and a hearing conservation program--without having to first adopt
noise-reduction engineering controls--when employee exposures to
noise were below 100 dBA. This amendment was an exception to OSHA's "hierarchy of controls" policy, which requires employers to adopt engineering controls--i.e., physical changes in the workplace--before resorting to administrative controls or
personal protective equipment to minimize workplace hazards.
In June, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) revised its Criteria Document on Occupational Noise Exposure and made several key recommendations to change OSHA's standard:
Effectively, these changes would dramatically increase the
number of workplaces and employees covered by noise regulation
and significantly reduce the number of workplaces and employees
that can achieve compliance with current hearing protection.
The NIOSH recommendations allegedly are supported by a
reanalysis of data more than 30 years old, and the report
contains no new data. More important, the report provides no
analyses of current occupational experience in companies using
effective hearing conservation programs. The lack of any current
data underlying the NIOSH proposal raises serious questions about
the suitability of the document to support any changes in the
For further information, please contact David G. Sarvadi at 202-434-4249 or email@example.com.