OSHA Contemplates a Hearing Conservation Program for Construction

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking comments on whether the agency should add a requirement for a hearing conservation program to its construction noise standard, similar to the requirements covering general industry workers.

Hearing conservation programs for the construction industry could include providing hearing protection and hearing tests, as well as conducting periodic noise exposure monitoring, to workers exposed to high noise levels.

"Many construction activities involve high levels of noise that can cause hearing loss and create safety hazards," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "While these difficulties occur in other occupational environments, they are of particular concern in the construction industry, where a variety of activities often occur simultaneously."

Every year, as many as 750,000 U.S. construction workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels. Among these workers, regular hearing protection is only worn about 15 percent to 33 percent of the time.

In an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, OSHA is requesting input on whether the general industry requirements should be applied to construction work and, if so, how these requirements should be adapted for the construction industry. The deadline for comments is Nov. 4.

OSHA's current construction noise standards require employers to protect workers from hazardous noise and provide hearing protection devices to workers engaged in construction and renovation work when high noise levels are present.

Written comments on the hearing conservation program for the construction industry must be submitted in triplicate to the Docket Office, Docket No. H-011G, Room N-2625, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20210, (202) 693-2350. Electronic comments may be submitted to: ecomments.osha.gov.

Because of security-related problems in receiving regular mail service in a timely manner, OSHA is requesting that comments be hand-delivered to the Docket Office, or sent by Express Mail or other overnight delivery service; electronic mail; or facsimile.

Notice of the proposal is scheduled for publication in today's Federal Register.

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