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The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has petitioned the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to reduce the level of noise to which workers may be exposed without putting noise-control measures in place.
OSHA’s current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for noise controls is 90 decibels (dBA), although the applicable regulation (29 CFR 1910.95) also requires employers to have hearing conservation programs in all workplaces where noise levels exceed 85 dBA. Since the existing rule was promulgated 1974, however, research has shown that workers exposed at between 85 and 90 dBA face significant risk of hearing loss. ISEA asked OSHA to reduce the PEL to 85 dBA for an eight-hour, time-weighted average (TWA), consistent with the hearing-conservation requirement.
ISEA, which is the trade association that represents manufacturers of safety equipment, including hearing protection, commissioned a review of current workplace noise conditions by a leading hearing conservation authority. Dr. Alice Suter of
In addition to petitioning OSHA to lower the PEL, ISEA asked the agency to reduce the exchange rate from 5 to 3 dBA. This number represents the increase in noise exposure that can be permitted if the duration of the exposure is halved. A 3-dBA exchange rate would be consistent with current research findings and requirements in most of the world, Shipp noted.
Since ISEA delivered its petition to OSHA, the association has asked more than 20 other hearing conservation stakeholders, including the American Industrial Hygiene Association and National Hearing Conservation Association, to write OSHA in support of the petition. Organizations interested in supporting ISEA’s petition may contact technical director Janice Comer Bradley at 703-525-1695 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ISEA’s petition and Dr. Suter’s report also are available by contacting Bradley.
Arlington, Va.-based International Safety Equipment Association is the leading trade association for manufacturers of safety and personal protective equipment. Established in 1933, ISEA supports its members in manufacturing and marketing the highest-quality products to protect the safety and health of people who may be exposed to hazardous and potentially harmful environments while working on the job or at home.