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Release Number: 10-1702-NAT
Dec. 6, 2010
Contact: Jason Surbey
Phone: 202-693-4668
E-mail: surbey.jason@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA extends comment period to March 21, 2011,
announces stakeholder meeting on noise control interpretation

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced that it is extending by 90 days the official comment period on the proposed interpretation titled "Interpretation of OSHA's Provisions for Feasible Administrative or Engineering Controls of Occupational Noise," which was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 19. Interested parties are encouraged to submit comments by March 21, 2011.

The agency also announced that it will hold a stakeholder meeting before the end of the comment period to listen to the concerns of businesses and workers about the proposed noise interpretation.

"We're very eager to get input from those parties who would be affected by this proposed interpretation," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "We have by no means completed our review of the issue and seek to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of protecting workers, yet sensitive to the operating changes businesses would need to make."

Thousands of workers every year continue to suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that more than 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. In 2008 alone, BLS reported 22,000 hearing loss cases.

Responding to continuing high levels of hearing loss among employees in the nation's workplaces, the notice proposed to make enforcement of the hearing conservation standard consistent with enforcement of other OSHA standards by clarifying the term "feasible administrative or engineering controls" as