The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun evaluating the potential for a new process noise in construction standard.
The potential standard was included on the agency’s regulatory agenda published in May. OSHA is planning to issue a request for information in November to gauge the effectiveness and feasibility of adopting more noise-hazard requirements.
Two recent studies on occupational hearing loss conducted by the Department of Energy and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health concluded that a significant percentage of construction workers have suffered hearing loss during their careers. The permissible exposure limit for construction noise is 90 A-weighted decibels over an eight-hour period, but NIOSH's recommended exposure level is 85 A-weighted decibels over that timeframe.
The more stringent rule impacts workers in factories, and experts say that making the tougher standard apply to construction workers would make a real difference in protecting their hearing.