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.

October 10, 1985

Mr. Richard D. Miller
420 Fulton
Elgin, Illinois 60120

Dear Mr. Miller:

This is in response to your letter of August 7, which was referred to this office by Senator Paul Simon. In your letter you expressed concern about the permissible exposure limit set forth in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) standard for occupational noise exposure (29 CFR 1910.95). Please excuse the delay in responding.

First, it should be noted that health matters affecting employees of Metra are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railroad Administration. You may wish to contact Mr. Joseph Walsh, Associate Administrator for Safety, Federal Railroad Administration, 400 7th Street, S.W., Washington, D. C., 20590, Telephone (202)-426-4366, to express your concerns.

For your information, however, the permissible exposure limit set forth by OSHA in 1910.95 is 90 decibels (db) rather than 95 db as your letter suggests. When employee noise exposures are in excess of 90 db, engineering controls must be utilized, where feasible, to reduce noise levels.

On March 8, 1983, OSHA amended the noise standard to include specific requirements for hearing conservation programs. The hearing conservation amendment specifies an 85 db action level at which such programs must be implemented. Each program must include provisions for audiometric testing, wearing of hearing protectors, and employee training and education. This amendment will provide additional protection to those employees exposed between 85 and 90 db. I have enclosed a copy of the Hearing Conservation Amendment for your information. Please bear in mind, however, that your workplace is covered by the Federal Railroad Administration and it is they who must determine what specific rules apply.

I hope this information is helpful to you.


Edward J. Baier
Acting Director

Health Standards Programs