OSHA Web Site on Noise and Hearing Conservation

February 07, 2005

OSHA has created a new e-tool designed to help prevent occupational hearing loss. 

Noise is one of the most common health problems in American workplaces. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that 30 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise. Exposure to high levels of noise may cause hearing loss, create physical and psychological stress, reduce productivity, interfere with communication, and contribute to accidents and injuries by making it difficult to hear warning signals.

The new eTool features information on what is considered occupational noise and its potential health affects. It also provides detailed guidance on how to properly evaluate noise exposure and what constitutes an effective hearing conservation program.

The site also references OSHA noise exposure standards and employer responsibilities. OSHA requires employers to determine if workers are exposed to excessive noise in the workplace. If so, the employers must implement feasible engineering or administrative controls to eliminate or reduce hazardous levels of noise. Where controls are not sufficient, employers must implement an effective hearing conservation program.

New Publications Highlight Teen Workers, Concrete and Warehouse Safety

OSHA recently added four new publications to the list of agency informative materials to help advance workplace safety and health. 

OSHA Fines New York Contractors $98,400 for Construction Site Safety Hazards

Nine New York area contractors face a total of $98,400 in fines for 56 alleged serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards at three Brooklyn construction projects. The sites include the Marcy Homes and Marcus Garvey Homes residential construction projects, as well as the TPT Rehab project.

OSHA fined the employers after inspections begun in November in response to employee complaints of unsafe working conditions. An agency representative noted that it finds it particularly disturbing to see many of the same hazards at three different jobsites overseen by the same general contractor. He went on to note that, left uncorrected, the cited conditions expose employees to potential serious injury or death from falls, electrocution, scaffold collapse, gas cylinder explosions, or head injuries.

Great American Construction Corp. of Mt. Vernon, NY, is the general contractor for the three projects. The company was fined $25,350 for lack of fall protection and fall protection training, unsecured floor hole covers, uncleared debris, ladder and stairway hazards, various electrical hazards, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, and failing to perform an engineering survey and to inspect the jobsite.

S&L Magic Construction Corp. of Glendale, NY, was fined $33,600 for failing to train employees in unsafe conditions, fall and scaffold hazards and the proper use of ladders, no fall protection for employees working on a scaffold, and unstable objects used to support scaffolding. Other causes for citation included improperly secured compressed gas cylinders, unsecured and unmarked floor hole covers, not wearing protective helmets, and electrical, ladder and stairway hazards.

Other cited New York area contractors were Reliant Electrical, fined $14,200; W&H Associates Construction, fined $9,200; CMU Specialties Inc, fined $6,000; Papasidero Marble and Tile, LLC, fined $3,750; Service Plus Plumbing and Heating Co. Inc., fined $2,850; ANR Electrical Contracting, fined $2,100; and Caapuci Drywall, fined $1,350.

Among the violations for which the contractors were cited were electrical, scaffold, ladder and stairway hazards, lack of head and eye protection, unguarded wall openings and an unguarded grinder, and failure to conduct inspections and to train workers to recognize unsafe conditions.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Pfizer Project Workers to Benefit from New OSHA Partnership

OSHA recently joined forces with Pfizer, Turner Construction Company (TCCO), the New Jersey State Department of Labor On-site Consultation Program, the Morris County Building Construction Trades Council and area contractors to forge a comprehensive safety and health partnership.

The partnership will protect workers on the Pfizer Building Construction Project in Parsippany, NJ. Managed by TCCO, the project involves the construction of a multi-story parking garage. It is scheduled to be completed on or about June 2006. More than 200 trade employees are expected to be working onsite at its peak.

Headquartered in New York City, TCCO has over 100 years of experience in the construction industry.

Partnership objectives include zero fatalities, zero exposure to fall hazards greater than six feet above a lower level, promoting and encouraging employers to establish "Drug Free" workplaces, and instituting a Motor Vehicle Safety Program for all employees at the site.

Tyson 'Employee Bill of Rights' Introduced

Tyson Foods has developed a new "Team Member Bill of Rights." The document, which took several months to develop, is part of an effort to ensure workers understand their rights in the workplace, including their right to a safe workplace, and will be posted in all Tyson facilities throughout the country.

OSHA has previously cited Tyson Foods for violations of occupational safety and health regulations, some of which lead to worker fatalities. In April 2004, the agency cited a Tyson Foods Inc. facility in Texarkana, AR, for alleged willful and serious violations of health and safety standards following the October death of an employee who was asphyxiated when he inhaled hydrogen sulfide. OSHA proposed penalties of $436,000 for the alleged violations.

The "bill," signed by John Tyson, underscores the company's core values and "commitment that all team members are treated with dignity and respect." It also highlights the "Tell Tyson First Program," which encourages workers who believe they are being unfairly treated to contact the corporate human resources department by calling a toll-free number.

The document will be translated into multiple languages, and covers such areas as:

    • The right to a safe workplace
    • The right to be free from discrimination and retaliation
    • The right to be compensated for work performed
    • The right to understand information provided
    • The right to choose whether they want to join together for collective bargaining
    • The right to continuing training

In June 2001, OSHA and Tyson Foods Inc. signed a partnership agreement aimed at improving worker safety and health at two of the poultry processor's facilities in Clarksville, AR., and in Monett, MO.

The company says that most Tyson plants have a full-time safety manager, as well as occupational nurses. The company also maintains a corporate health and safety department. New employees go through orientation and training programs that place heavy emphasis on workplace safety.

According to Tyson, this includes demonstrations on the proper use of personal protective equipment. Tyson facilities typically have safety-related committees made up of management and hourly employees. This usually includes committees on general safety, ergonomics, hazardous materials and fire protection.

Workplace Fatality Results in $65,500 Penalty

Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company has been fined $66,500 by OSHA for violations of workplace safety standards following an investigation into the workplace accident in which one worker died and another received serious injuries.

The agency issued serious and willful citations to the Illinois electricity and natural gas distributor for allowing a number of unsafe practices including an alleged willful violation for permitting employees to work on distribution lines without the required electrical grounding.

Seven alleged violations categorized as serious included the companyÆs failure to assess the workplace for job safety hazards, lack of protective equipment and clothing, failure to train or brief employees on each job, and failing to have employees follow appropriate energy control procedures during the repair of power lines.

OSHA Recordkeeping Handbook Available Free Online

A new publication is available on OSHA's website to aid employers and workers in understanding the agency's recordkeeping policies, procedures and requirements.  The handbook allows the user to easily locate specific information pertaining to each section of the rule, and also contains recordkeeping-related Frequently Asked Questions and OSHA's enforcement guidance that has previously been presented in various agency Letters of Interpretation.