- Standard Number:
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.
February 1, 2001
Mr. Lee D. Hager
Executive Vice President
James, Anderson & Associates, Inc.
2123 University Park Drive, #130
Okemos, Michigan 48864
Dear Mr Hager:
Thank you for your January 28, 2000 letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) Directorate of Compliance Programs (DCP), requesting an interpretation of the Occupational Noise Exposure standard, specifically at 29 CFR 1910.95(d)(1)(i) and (ii). Please be aware that this response may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. We apologize for the delay in our response. Your statement and our reply are provided below.
Statement: We are seeking a letter of interpretation or a compliance directive specifying that Task-Based Noise Exposure Assessment Modeling (T-BEAM) in combination with an organizational structured sampling strategy meets the requirements and intent of 29 CFR 1910.95 at sections (d)(1)(i) and (d)(1)(ii).
Reply: Paragraph (d)(1)(i) states that, "the sampling strategy shall be designed to identify employees for inclusion in the hearing conservation program and to enable proper selection of hearing protectors." Therefore, if the T-BEAM assessment is properly performed, it could identify all employees who need to be included in a hearing conservation program, and facilitate proper selection of hearing protection. As such, the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.95(d)(1)(i) would be met.
Paragraph (d)(1)(ii) states that, "where circumstances such as high worker mobility, significant variations in sound level, or a significant component of impulse noise make area monitoring generally inappropriate, the employer shall use representative personal sampling to comply with the monitoring requirements of this paragraph unless the employer can show that area sampling produces equivalent results."
If the T-BEAM protocol is appropriate for the specific situation (i.e., well defined tasks, durations and sound levels for specific job classifications) and the procedure is performed correctly, then it would comply with this paragraph. However, if the exposure situation is highly variable or the protocol is poorly executed, then full-shift personal monitoring would be necessary for compliance with paragraph (d)(1)(ii).
In your letter you also mentioned that OSHA compliance officers are not accepting T-BEAM studies as sufficient, inferring that noise dosimetry is the only noise monitoring protocol accepted by OSHA. In fact, OSHA does accept other noise monitoring protocols, provided that the results are equivalent to full-shift personal dosimetry or sound level meter sampling, as described in 29 CFR 1910.95 Appendix B. However, to be in compliance with the standard's monitoring requirements, please be aware that it is the employer's burden to demonstrate that T-BEAM results are equivalent to the measures described above and ensure maximum accuracy.
Thank you for your interest in occupational safety and health. We hope you find this information helpful. 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 interpretations of 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 http://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 693-2190.
Richard E. Fairfax, Director
Directorate of Compliance Programs