Stakeholder Meeting on Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss summary released by OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a summary of the key discussion points made during an informal stakeholder meeting that was held to gather information on the best practices for noise reduction in the workplace.

The meeting, which was held November 3, 2011, included discussions on personal protective equipment, hearing conservation programs, and engineering controls.

The stakeholders agreed that it is a best practice to provide workers with a variety of hearing protectors. Offering different choices makes it more likely that a worker will wear the safety products due to varying personal comfort levels.

If employers make a strong effort to reduce noise through noise controls, they said, it should provide incentive for workers to wear hearing protection.

Stakeholders also discussed the disciplinary measures against employees for failing to wear ear plugs or other safety products, and decided that it may actually deter workers from wearing such products. It was noted that failure to comply with employer created hearing conservation programs may be the result of hearing protection devices interfering with speech and alarm detection for workers. This dangerous interference may be especially true for many older workers that already have hearing loss.

The stakeholders suggested that employers develop a rule, communicate the rule to workers through training, audit the program at different levels, and proactively resolve problems when identified.

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