OSHA Launches Regional Emphasis Program on Workplace Noise

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Kansas City regional office (Region 7) has established a Regional Emphasis Program to target inspections of general industry and construction workplaces at high risk of noise exposure and to raise awareness among Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska employers of noise hazards and required safety measures.

OSHA cites Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, which assert that more than one in 10 people endure workplace noise levels loud enough to damage their hearing, while seven in 10 experience moderately loud noise levels. Despite this evidence of workplace noise levels, the bureau found that in 2020 less than half of the nation’s workers reported using PPE to protect their hearing.

“Hearing conservation programs are designed to protect workers’ hearing and prevent irreversible hearing loss. These programs also provide employers and workers with the knowledge and equipment to control and reduce their exposure to noise,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Steven J. Kaplan in Kansas City, Missouri. “Our Regional Emphasis Program has an outreach phase that encourages employers to address and correct hazards, followed by targeted inspections to ensure employers are taking necessary steps to reduce noise hazards and prevent injuries to their workers.”

By law, OSHA requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when the average noise exposure over eight working hours reaches or exceeds 85 decibels, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compares to the sound of city traffic (from inside the vehicle) or a gas-powered leaf blower. To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, OSHA provides employers with hearing conservation guidelines.

In the Regional Emphasis Program’s initial phase, OSHA will send information to employers, professional associations, local safety councils, apprenticeship programs, local hospitals and occupational health clinics. Agency representatives also will make presentations to industry organizations and stakeholders. The program also will encourage employers to use OSHA’s free consultation services to help them implement noise safety strategies and ensure compliance with OSHA standards.

OSHA encourages employers to take steps to identify, reduce and eliminate hazards related to high levels of noise during the program’s initial phase. Following its three-month outreach that began Feb. 28, the program empowers OSHA to schedule and inspect select general industry and construction employers in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska with hearing loss rates higher than the national average. This program is set to expire on Oct. 1, 2026.

For details of this Regional Emphasis Program, see www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/enforcement/directives/CPL-02-11-01L.pdf. For more information on OSHA, visit www.osha.gov/.