"For more than 21 years, construction workers have not been afforded the same legal protections from hearing loss as their industrial counterparts," AIHA President Roy Buchan, Dr.PH, CIH, says in the letter. "More than 700,000 workers are at risk and many lose significant hearing after only 10 to 15 years on the job."
AIHA's letter notes that OSHA originally planned to issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on hearing conservation in construction in 2000 and the association offered assistance and support at that time. However, OSHA failed to issue the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking until 2002, and the most recent regulatory agenda for the agency relegates the rulemaking to the "long-term actions" category, essentially removing the issue from consideration at this time.
"AIHA continues to believe that hearing loss in construction is a serious issue that has not been given the attention it deserves," Buchan says in the letter. "We respectfully request OSHA to begin efforts to move expeditiously forward on a hearing conservation standard for construction. As a first step in this process, we are hopeful that OSHA will remove the issue from the long-term category on the regulatory agenda and perhaps move toward publishing a proposed rule sometime in 2006."
The letter adds that AIHA and its Noise and Construction committees "will be pleased to work with OSHA and other stakeholders on this issue."
AIHA's full letter, which includes a review of AIHA's position on hearing conservation programs for construction workers, is available online at http://www.aiha.org under "Government Affairs."