OSHA Launches Regional Inspection Program
OSHA’s Region V has launched a Regional Emphasis Program (REP) to address noise hazards in the manufacturing sector, including metalcasting. OSHA noted that “one in 10 people endure noise levels at work loud enough to cause hearing loss.” Furthermore, more than half of U.S. manufacturing workers reported not using hearing protection based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Requirements Survey, published in 2019.
Enforcement of the REP will impact foundries in Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin and begin after the completion of a three-month outreach and education campaign that started June 1. OSHA will schedule inspections at facilities with hearing loss rates higher than the national average. Enforcement activities will include “the inspection and review of operations and working conditions, injury and illness records, and safety and health programs to identify and obtain corrections of workplace hazards.”
OSHA requires employers in general industry to implement a hearing conservation program when the average noise exposure reaches or exceeds 85 decibels over an eight-hour time-weighted average period. The agency also provides employers with hearing conservation guidelines to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Baseline and annual audiograms for employees can help determine whether hearing loss is present. AFS has a specific guide available on Hearing Loss Prevention in Metalcasting to provide foundries with updated information and guidance to support programs that address noise exposure issues in their plants.