November 30, 2023

OSHA Renews Regional Emphasis Program for Noise

OSHA has renewed a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) focusing on high levels of workplace noise in three Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia, a Department of Labor press release announced in late November. First established in 2018, the renewed REP prioritizes noise exposures that can contribute to hearing loss during workplace inspections in Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

According to the OSHA instruction implementing the revised REP (PDF), the program provides “a comprehensive framework of guidance and direction to ensure effective targeting, enforcement, and outreach” for workers at risk of developing occupational noise-induced hearing loss in the targeted region. The renewal adds three more industry sectors for targeting by the program: sawmills and wood preservation, other wood manufacturing, and ornamental and architectural metal products.

Employers are required by law to implement hearing conservation programs when average noise exposure over eight hours reaches or exceeds 85 dB. NIOSH has estimated that 22 million workers in the U.S. are at risk for hearing loss. And in 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 12,000 workers suffered from work-related hearing loss, including about 9,700 workers in the manufacturing industry.

More information is available from the DOL press release.