OSHA Hearing Protection Enforcement Has Begun

As of May 17, 2022, employers in industries with high rates of work-related hearing loss will be subject to inspection and fine by the newly created Regional Emphasis Program for Noise Induced Hearing Loss.

Following a 90-day outreach period, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Regional Emphasis Program for Noise Induced Hearing Loss has officially exited the 90-day outreach period and moved into the enforcement phase. The emphasis program targets manufacturing industries with high rates of occupational hearing loss in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

Historically, hearing loss is the most recorded occupational illness in manufacturingIn 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that potentially damaging noise levels put 18 million workers at risk and produced 14,500 cases of work-related hearing loss . 

“This regional emphasis program will help ensure manufacturing employers in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota do what is necessary to protect their workers from exposures to excessive noise and prevent permanent hearing loss,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver. “OSHA hopes the emphasis program will remind manufacturing industry employers to follow required safety standards and alert workers to the related hazards and reduce workplace injuries,” Rous added.

What this means for you:

Important to note:

1. This emphasis program allows them to stop in any facility they ‘think’ can have loud noises, and they’ll find out more as they go. (if they find out auto shops trigger it on one inspection, they’ll add auto shops to the list of targets for the rest of the emphasis period. Emphasis programs tend to go until they stop – with no real end planned, and only if another emphasis comes along. There is another emphasis program on amputations, eye injuries, trenches (construction), falls/fall protection, electrical, and moving equipment (being struck by or caught between type hazards). This is just the newest one. 

2. Hearing loss violations are often duplicated with multiple citations and often, duplicate fines. That means you can be cited for a) having too much noise, b) not providing or enforcing wearing of hearing protection PPE c) failing to train, d) failing to test hearing annually or as required d) failing to have a written program,  e) failing to have a survey of your site to determine the noise levels on normal days. (these tests can be at one time, or employees can wear a monitor to see how much they get exposed in a full day (called a dosimeter

Your safety professional, whether on site on contracted, should be prepared to avoid any citations that may come your way. A knowledge of industry rules across the nation is imperative.

At Preferred Safety, we understand how to keep you safe and compliant. We can design questionnaires, tests, or trainings to save you tens of thousands of dollars in fines–or worse, injuries, lawsuits, and fatalities. Shop our safety products, connect with us, or read the bill in its entirety below.

Read OSHA Directive CPL 2022-02