Back in October 2010, in our very first substantive post “OSHA crackdown coming?” (where oh where does the time go), Law under Construction reported the following:
OSHA announced on October 19, 2010 its intent to expand its interpretation of the word “feasible” as related to occupational noise exposure standards. Under current standards, a citation can be issued if a company fails to use engineering and administration controls (i.e. limit employee exposure) when they cost less than hearing conservation equipment or such equipment is ineffective. OSHA intends to update “feasible” to “capable of being done,” which will result in citations for not implementing engineering and administration controls unless such controls will put them out of business or threaten the company’s viability. OSHA is accepting comments on the proposed interpretation until December 20, 2010.
Well, it appears that the OSHA crackdown on this issue recently turned into an OSHA backdown, although those representing businesses and workers differ on whether this is a beneficial change. Earlier this year, OSHA withdrew this proposed change to workplace noise standards, which, if adopted, would basically have required employers to adopt increased safety measures to protect the hearing of employees instead of just providing them with ear protection gear, such as ear phones. It appears that OSHA is exploring how to address the hearing loss issue without incurring these types of significant costs.
We will keep you updated here at Law under Construction if the proposed change resurfaces in some other form.