In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about half the nation’s workers reported not using hearing protection despite being exposed to noise hazards.
To aid in reducing the risk of noise exposure and to promote hearing protection programs, OSHA’s Kansas City office is introducing a regional emphasis program (REP) focused on hearing protection.
Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska covered
The REP will target inspections of general industry and construction worksites at high risk of noise exposure in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
In 2020, 71% of production workers suffered moderate levels of noise exposure and 25% endured exposures to loud noise levels. Twenty-five percent of construction workers exposed to noise reported hearing loss that impacts their lives outside of work.
Employers are required by law to create a hearing conservation program when the average noise exposure over eight hours reaches or exceeds 85 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound produced by a gas-powered leaf blower.
Outreach then enforcement
OSHA provides employers with hearing conservation guidelines, and the initial phase of the REP will involve the agency sending this information to:
- professional associations
- local safety councils
- apprenticeship programs
- local hospitals, and
- occupational health clinics.
OSHA representatives will also be making presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders during this initial phase.
Following the three-month outreach, which began Feb. 28, the REP will allow OSHA to inspect select general industry and construction employers in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska with hearing loss rates higher than the national average.