NHCA Petitions OSHA to Lower Permissible Exposure Limits for Noise

Citing that nearly 22 million American workers are exposed to hazardous noise on a daily basis and that occupational hearing loss continues to plague industry, the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) has made a request to OHSA to reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise exposures.

"Noise-induced hearing loss is an insidious, permanent, and irreversible disease which has a tremendous negative impact on people's lives. The good news is that this disease is 100 percent preventable," said Rick Neitzel, Ph.D., CIH, NHCA president. "The bad news is that OSHA's 30-year-old noise exposure regulation is not consistent with current scientific knowledge, is not uniformly applied across all industries, and has not proven effective in preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)."

NHCA has requested that OSHA lower the PEL in the Occupation Noise Standard 29 CFR 1910.95 from 90 dBA to 85 dBA, and the Action Level from 85 to 80 dBA. Citing recent research by NIOSH and other organizations, American workers face a considerable risk of NIHL associated with long-term work at the current PEL of 90 dBA and a 5 dB time/intensity exchange rate. NHCA has also requested that the time/intensity exchange rate be reduced from 5 to 3 dB.

In the letter, NHCA also requests that OSHA extend the PEL to other industries, such as construction, agriculture, oil and gas drilling and servicing, and shipbuilding, that are not covered by the existing regulation. NHCA also asks OSHA to rescind a policy (OSHA Field Operations Manual, 3/2009) which permits exposures up to 100 dBA without requiring implementation of noise controls.

"Nearly every other nation on earth has adopted a more protective 85 dBA exposure limit--which means that U.S. workers have a substantially greater risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss than do the workers of almost every other nation," Neitzel said. "Also, workers in industries like construction, agriculture, and oil and gas drilling are currently not covered by an effective regulation, which is unacceptable, given the high levels of noise exposure associated with these industries."

NHCA's letter to OSHA can be found here.

Download Center

  • Industrial Premium Library

    Empower your workforce with the manufacturing, industrial maintenance, operations, HSE, compliance, and professional development skills they need to complete their tasks efficiently and safely. Not only will you boost productivity, reliability, skills, and morale but you’ll also onboard faster, and retain your best employees while meeting regulatory standards. Vector Solutions offers over 1,800 award-winning eLearning courses designed to keep your employees safe, transfer knowledge of fundamentals, and develop industry and job-specific skills that reduce downtime, maintenance costs and more.

  • Safety Metrics & Insights Webinar

    EHS professionals have been tackling the subject of how to best measure performance for many years. Lagging indicators like the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) and Days Away Restricted Transfer Rate (DART) are a good place to start, but you shouldn’t forget about the leading indicators that your workforce does every day to prevent incidents from occurring. Learn about some of the most common KPIs of safety programs and how Vector EHS Management software can be used to track these metrics in this webinar.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively. Download this guide for details on risk matrix calculations including severity, probability, and risk assessment.

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - September 2022

    September 2022

    Featuring:

    • ESG
      EHS Will Guide Future ESG Success for Many Organizations
    • MACHINE GUARDING
      Handling Material Handlers: Training Beyond PIT Requirements
    • EHS SOFTWARE
      The Missing Link with EHS Software
    • HEARING PROTECTION
      Noise Surveys from the Trenches
    View This Issue