Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these states adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some states have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.
Noise and hearing conservation is addressed in specific standards for recordkeeping, general industry, maritime, and construction employment. This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers) for General Industry and Maritime employment.
Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, often referred to as the General Duty Clause, requires employers to "furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees". This section may be used to address hazards for which there are no specific standards, eg. noise in agricultural operations.
Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements. Final Rules 67:44037-44048, (2002, July 1). Revises the criteria for recording hearing loss cases in several ways, including requiring the recording of Standard Threshold Shifts (10 dB shifts in hearing acuity) that have resulted in a total 25 dB level of hearing above audiometric zero, averaged over the frequencies at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz, beginning in the year 2003.
Guidelines for Noise Enforcement; Appendix A. CPL 02-02-035 [CPL 2-2.35A], (1983, December 19). Lists several factors to consider and document in the case file with regard to comparing the relative degree of attenuation of personal protectors and engineering and/or administrative controls.
49 CFR 227, Occupational Noise Exposure for Railroad Operating Employees. Requires railroads to conduct noise monitoring and implement a hearing conservation program for employees whose exposure to cab noise equals or exceeds an 8-hour TWA of 85 dBA. This final rule became effective February 26, 2007.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Occupational Noise Exposure. Publication No. 98-126, (1998, June). Includes revisions to previous 1972 recommendations that go beyond attempting to conserve hearing by focusing on preventing occupational noise-induced hearing loss.
DoD Hearing Conservation Program (PDF). Instruction No. 6055.12, (2010, December 3). Includes exposure limits and requirements for monitoring, control methods, hearing conservation programs, and more as part of the hearing conservation program.
US Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
A10.46-2007, Hearing Loss Prevention in Construction and Demolition Workers. Applies to all construction and demolition workers with potential noise exposures (continuous, intermittent and impulse) of 85 dBA and above.
S3.1-1999 (R2008), Maximum Permissible Ambient Noise Levels for Audiometric Test Rooms. Specifies maximum permissible ambient noise levels (MPANLs) allowed in audiometric test rooms.
S3.44-1996 (R2006), Determination of Occupational Noise Exposure and Estimation of Noise-Induced Hearing Impairment.
S3.6-2010, American National Standard Specification for Audiometers. Includes specifications and tolerances for audiometers and standard reference threshold levels for audiometric transducers.
S12.6-2008, Methods for Measuring the Real-Ear Attenuation of Hearing Protectors. Specifies laboratory-based procedures for measuring, analyzing & reporting passive noise-reducing capabilities of hearing protection devices.
S1.4-1983 (R2006), American National Standard Specification for Sound Level Meters. Establishes performance and accuracy requirements for sound level meters.
S1.25-1991 (R2007), American National Standard Specification for Personal Noise Dosimeters. Contains specifications for performance characteristics of personal noise dosimeters.
All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.
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