NSC: NRR Change Coming, But When?

EPA will revise hearing protectors' labels in 2012, Howard Leight's Theresa Schulz predicts, but when is uncertain

PHILADELPHIA – The anticipated change in NRR labels on hearing protectors is not imminent, one of the participants in the International Safety Equipment Association’s Nov. 1 panel of member companies’ experts said. Theresa Schulz, a hearing protection expert from Howard Leight, explained how the new labels will be determined and what the values on them will mean. She and other hearing conservation experts, along with millions of users of hearing protectors, are waiting for EPA to issue a regulation carrying out the change in labeling and testing of those products.

”[The label] is telling the best capability of that product versus another product,” Schulz explained. “My guess is [EPA will act] sometime in 2012, but I don’t know when.” Manufacturers are not yet placing the new labels on their products, and they will have to retest their products as soon as the rule is issued, she added.

Tom Wolner, engineering director for Capital Safety, discussed new and existing standards and regulatory actions in fall protection, including OSHA’s withdrawn reinterpretation of fall protection requirements in residential wood-frame construction. OSHA’s walking/working surfaces regulation also is being revised, with the agency yet to decide whether permanent systems or temporary, portable platforms will be used for work on rolling stock, and the agency may remove the current “qualified climber” exemption for outdoor advertising work at heights, he added.

Wolner discussed the ANSI Z359 standards still being developed, including the Z359.11 harness standard, the Z359.14 standard on self-retracting devices, and the Z359.7 standard on qualification and verification testing of fall protection equipment.

Marty Lorkowski of Scott Safety discussed respiratory protection, dwelling mainly on OSHA’s existing 29 CFR 1910.134 standard. Recordkeeping is the one place employers often come up short in complying with it, he said, adding that 1910.134 violations have ranked among OSHA’s five most-cited standards in recent years. “Not only are we not complying with 1910.134, but also we’re not going the extra step of working toward operational excellence,” he said.

ISEA President Dan Shipp moderated the panel discussion, which was the first presentation of this type by the trade association at an NSC conference.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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