OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

September 16, 1983

Mr. Jerry D. Schmalfeldt
and Mr. Harold Parrett
Local 151, UAW-Amalgamated
1501 Eastern Avenue
Connersville, Indiana 47331

Dear Mr. Schmalfeldt and Mr. Parrett:

This is in response to your letter of August 5, 1983, in which you inquire whether there are any violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration noise regulations when employees wear portable ear muff type radios at work.

For purposes of brevity, "85 dBA" is used in this letter as a shorthand term meaning 8 hours of noise at a sound pressure level of 85 decibels, or an equivalence of this amount of noise, after attenuation on an A-weighting network at slow instrument response.

The OSHA noise regulations would clearly not apply in a situation where: (1) the sound pressure level inside the muffs does not exceed 85 dBA, and (2) the employees are working in an environment where the sound pressure level of the noise does not exceed 85 dBA. If the situation at your workplace is different from the described situation, OSHA noise regulations could possibly apply. Specific details of the workplace conditions would be required in order to make this determination, however.

As you may know, the State of Indiana administers its own occupational safety and health program under a provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, subject to close monitoring by Federal OSHA. Should you wish to contact the State, the address and telephone number are:


Indiana Division of Labor
1013 State Office Building
100 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Telephone: 317-232-2663

Thank you for your inquiry. If we can be of future assistance, please contact us.


Bruce Hillenbrand
Director, Federal Compliance
and State Programs

August 5, 1983

Dear Sir:

We work in a factory in Connersville, Indiana. We are the Safety Representatives for UAW Local 151. There are approximately 1500 employees working at this plant. It is an assembly plant and our press room has been very noisy. The company we work for has been trying to keep the noise level down in the press room since March 21, 1978. They have built enclosures etc.

Now, in the assembly dept. where the noise is not so great, some of the employees are working on the assembly line and wearing a portable ear muff type radio. The radios are not causing problems with the employee or employer; but, the company thinks they are permitting a violation of noise control. Since the ear phone radio is not part of the company property, it's up to the employee if he wants to wear them or not. We need to know if the company could be held responsible. The radios can be adjusted to each employees desire.

Please write to me if there is any violation or if you can give me any information about the use of the radio in the factory. My address is: Jerry D. Schmalfeldt 813 Eastern Ave. Connersville, In. @7331 Your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Jerry D. Schmalfeldt
Day Shift Safety Rep.

Harold Parrett
Night Shift Safety Rep.