A news release said the proposed interpretation was published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2010.
“Hearing loss caused by excessive noise levels remains a serious occupational health problem in this country,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, in the news release. “However, it is clear from the concerns raised about this proposal that addressing this problem requires much more public outreach and many more resources than we had originally anticipated. We are sensitive to the possible costs associated with improving worker protection and have decided to suspend work on this proposed modification while we study other approaches to abating workplace noise hazards.”
The news release said thousands of workers every year continue to suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. In 2008 alone, BLS reported more than 22,000 hearing loss cases.
Michaels emphasized in the news release that OSHA remains committed to finding ways to reduce this toll. As part of this effort, the agency will:
- Conduct a thorough review of comments that have been submitted in response to the Federal Register notice and of any other information it receives on this issue;
- Hold a stakeholder meeting on preventing occupational hearing loss to elicit the views of employers, workers, and noise control and public health professionals;
- Consult with experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Academy of Engineering; and
- Initiate a “robust” outreach and compliance assistance effort to provide enhanced technical information and guidance on the many inexpensive, effective engineering controls for dangerous noise levels.