"OSHA's hearing conservation standard requires employers to take effective steps to protect the hearing of workers who are exposed to high noise levels," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Southeastern Massachusetts. "These include annual audiograms for exposed workers, notifying those employees if testing reveals a deterioration in hearing ability and referring them for appropriate medical evaluation, if needed. These safeguards were not provided for all exposed workers at this plant."
The largest fine, $63,000, was proposed for an alleged willful violation for failing to refer workers for required medical evaluations. Fines of $24,750 were proposed for five alleged serious violations. Four citations deal with the employer's failure to maintain and monitor all elements of the hearing conservation program, not providing annual audiograms to all affected employees, not notifying all affected employees of test results in a timely manner and not posting the hearing conservation standard. The fifth citation is for failure to ensure the use of lockout/tagout procedures when workers entered a strapping machine to perform maintenance.
An additional $2,000 in fines was proposed for two alleged other than serious violations for an incomplete illness and injury log and failing to record employees' hearing losses in a timely manner.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.