OSHA seeks stronger noise control protection through semantics
OSHA's noise standards specify that feasible administrative or engineering controls must be used to reduce noise to acceptable levels and that personal protective equipment -- ear plugs and ear muffs -- may be used only if the other controls are not completely effective. But the current enforcement policy allows citations for failure to use engineering and administrative controls only when they cost less than a hearing conservation program or such equipment is ineffective.
OSHA is proposing to interpret the word feasible to mean "capable of being done." The agency noted that the U.S. Supreme Court held that as the meaning of the term as used in the standard-setting provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
If approved, OSHA's noise enforcement policy would authorize issuing citations requiring the use of administrative and engineering controls when feasible as indicated by the revised interpretation of the word.
The agency said about 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise each year, possibly leading to elevated blood pressure, ringing in the ears, or permanent hearing loss.
Comments on the interpretation must be submitted by Dec. 20.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
December 9, 2010
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