OSHA Will Add Hearing Loss Column to Logs in 2004

Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, employers will be required to check a hearing loss column to record work-related cases meeting the new recording criteria established by OSHA. The new criteria go into effect in 2003.

"The new recordkeeping standard requires employers to record work-related hearing loss cases when an employee's hearing test shows a marked decrease in overall hearing," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Data from the new column will improve the nation's statistical information on occupational hearing loss, improve the agency's ability to determine where the injuries occur and help prioritize hearing loss prevention efforts."

Under the new criteria, employers will record 10-decibel shifts from the employee's baseline hearing test when they also result in an overall hearing level of 25 decibels.

OSHA is also postponing for one year three provisions related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs): the rule's definition of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), consideration of MSDs as privacy concern cases and requirements to check a MSD columns on the OSHA Log.

The delay does not effect an employer's obligation to record workplace injuries and illnesses or keep workplaces free from hazards. However, employers will not be required to use an MSD definition to categorize cases on the OSHA Log for calendar year 2003. Instead, they must check the column for "injury" or "all other illness" depending on the circumstances of the case.

OSHA also clarified three matters relating to recording occupational hearing loss in conjunction with the final rule: audiometric tests for workers in the shipbuilding industry; computation of a standard threshold shift for determining recordable hearing loss, and how OSHA will treat an expected increase in the number of recorded cases resulting from new recordkeeping definitions requirements.

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