Skip to main content

Another Great Enforcement Milestone for OSHA

Another Great Enforcement Milestone for OSHA
Just recently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had announced that it would be reversing the enforcement policy that it has been used since 1983. This policy, primarily allows almost every employer to adopt various types of PPE's and inculcate hearing conservation programs, instead of administrative and engineering controls.

A “proposed interpretation” document has also been published in the Federal Register. Indeed! This is a great enforcement milestone for OSHA, because it has reversed a policy that has been used for 27 years in the construction and the general industry.

From 1983, this regulatory agency has not penalized a single employer, for adopting PPE and hearing conservation programs instead of administrative and engineering controls, unless the noise generated was as high as 100dBA. Engineering and administrative controls are usually not adopted by employers, for they are almost always too expensive. Thus, citations for failure to use them were extremely rare. But OSHA has vowed to change this policy, for its first and only concern is to protect and safeguard the benefits and well being of the workers.

This newly proposed document has been signed by, Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary for OSHA. The old policy had stated that, "When employees are subjected to sound exceeding those listed [in tables within the standard], feasible administrative or engineering controls shall be utilized. If such controls fail to reduce sound levels within the levels [of the tables], personal protective equipment shall be provided and used to reduce sound levels within the levels of the table."

However, this current policy is going to interpret the word, "feasible" as "capable of being done" or "achievable." Furthermore, “this new enforcement policy will consider administrative and engineering controls feasible, if they will not threaten the employer's ability to remain in business or if the threat to viability results from the employer's having failed to keep up with industry safety and health standards."