On OSHA’s Newfound Restraint on Occupational Noise Regulations

By January 20, 2011Regulations, Technology

A round-up of the news coverage of yesterday’s announcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that it was withdrawing its proposal re-interpretation of occupational noise standards. (Earlier posts here.)

Associated Press, “Feds drop plan to change workplace noise standards“:

Agency head David Michaels said excessive noise experienced by employees working around heavy machinery is a serious health concern. But he said the problem requires more public outreach than the agency expected, given the costs of better worker protection.

OSHA spokeswoman Diana Petterson said the noise standards decision was “completely unrelated” to Obama’s order. The proposal did not involve issuing a new rule, but reinterpreting an existing rule.

Completely unrelated? Assuming the partial quoted is representative, that’s a missed opportunity. If we were running OSHA’s message shop, the statement would have gone something like: “The business community responded to the proposal with legitimate concerns and new information, and we gave them a serious review. There’s no direct relationship between today’s announcement and the President Obama’s new executive order, but we absoutely take the President’s direction on regulation to heart. OSHA believes that workplace safety, jobs and economic growth go hand and hand.”

Well, that would be three hands, but you get the drift. Embrace the spin!

News release, “Senators Snowe, Lieberman Praise OSHA’s Withdrawal of Noise Regulation“:

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Joseph I. Lieberman (ID-Conn.) today praised the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) decision to withdraw its proposed rule change regarding workplace noise exposure in light of a letter the senators sent to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis expressing their concerns with the new regulation.  In their letter, Senators Snowe and Lieberman, Co-Chairs of the Senate Task Force on Manufacturing, noted that OSHA published the change as a “proposed interpretation,” rather than submitting the proposal for a notice and comment rulemaking, which allowed the agency to circumvent critical input from small business stakeholders.

The Senators’ engagement on this issue really made a difference. It’s much appreciated.

Business Insurance, “OSHA drops workplace noise plan, cites employer costs“:

OSHA’s workplace noise abatement proposal, announced in the Dec. 14 Federal Register, drew the ire of industry groups that included the National Assn. of Manufacturers.

In a notice to manufacturers following OSHA’s proposal, NAM said it would require employers to “make sweeping changes to their workplaces,” including developing new workplace practices, procedures and work schedules; installing new equipment to contain sound; and retrofitting machines and production systems with noise-dampening controls.

Sensear news release, “Leading Hearing Protection Innovator Announces Support of OSHA’s Hearing Loss Reduction Goals and Encourages Consideration of Today’s Hearing Protection Technology to Achieve These Goals.”

News release, “National Tooling & Machining Association and Precision Metalforming Association Applaud OSHA Withdrawal of Proposed Change in Noise Rule

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • John Serocki says:

    This is the 21st Century in America. Businesses are saying they can’t afford to employ engineering methods to control workplace noise levels? Are we fools to believe this? Of course, our pandering politicians are controlled by big corporate money they need to fund their election campaigns. So, workers continue to loose hearing with OSHA’s inadequate noise standard. Corporate America wins another victory. They got what they wanted when they killed the ergo standard, too. Shame on us.

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