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 http://www.osha.gov.

May 27, 2016

Ms. Leah Nagurski
864 Columbus St. N.E.
Grand Rapids, Michigan  49525

Dear Ms. Nagurski:

Thank you for your letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Your letter was referred to the Directorate of Enforcement Programs for an answer to your specific question regarding OSHA’s Occupational Noise Exposure standard, 29 CFR 1910.95, as it applies to pet grooming. This letter constitutes OSHA’s interpretation only of the requirements herein, and may not be applicable to any questions not delineated within your original correspondence. Your paraphrased scenario and question are presented below, followed by our response.

Scenario: My employer, a pet grooming chain, has banned the use of high-velocity dryer nozzles in all its pet grooming salons. The employees were informed that OSHA banned their use after conducting noise exposure monitoring, which showed that OSHA’s permissible noise exposure levels were exceeded. However, the employees were not provided with any documentation supporting a ban from OSHA.

Question: Did OSHA implement a policy prohibiting the use of high-velocity dryer nozzles?

Response: No. Federal OSHA has not implemented a ban on any equipment used in pet grooming operations. However, OSHA does not prohibit an employer from replacing equipment it finds to be harmful to employees’ hearing. Employers have the option to substitute noisy equipment with less noisy equipment, or to eliminate its use altogether. On the other hand, an employer may not misrepresent to employees that OSHA has banned a particular product or piece of equipment.

OSHA sets legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. These limits are based on a worker’s 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) over a work day. With noise, OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) is an 8-hour TWA noise level of 90 dBA. Time of exposure is reduced by half for each 5 dBA increase. For example, workers would be overexposed to noise if they were exposed to noise of 95 dBA for four hours.  See, Table G-16, 29 CFR 1910.95.

Please note that the State of Michigan operates its own occupational safety and health program under a plan approved and monitored by OSHA. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has jurisdiction over workers in Michigan.  MIOSHA adopts and enforces standards and investigates safety and health concerns in workplaces throughout the state.  
State Plans are required to have standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA’s, but may have different or additional requirements. For specific information on the requirements and interpretation of Michigan’s standards, you may contact MIOSHA directly at the following address:

Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration
7150 Harris Drive
PO Box 30643
Lansing, MI 48909-8142
Phone: (517) 322-1817
https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/stateprogs/michigan.html

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 letters of interpretation do not create new or additional requirements but rather explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. From time to time, letters are affected when the Agency updates a standard, a legal decision impacts a standard, or changes in technology affect the interpretation.  To assure that you are using the correct information and guidance, please consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Health Enforcement at (202) 693-2190.

Sincerely,

Thomas Galassi, Director
Directorate of Enforcement Programs