iSi’s consulting team recently provided a presentation to the annual Kansas Safety and Health Conference about OSHA’s top poorly written regulations. We gave the audience a chance to vote at the end and one of the top vote getters was found in standard 1910.95. This is the occupational noise exposure standard. More specifically, 1910.95(l)(1).
A Unique Requirement
The noise exposure standard aims to protect workers against the effects of noise exposure when sound levels exceed a certain scale pictured in the standard. This is also where instructions on the rules for and how to develop a Hearing Conservation Program can be found. Section K of the standard discusses the importance of training, what topics need to be covered, and the requirement that the training be repeated annually.
In the next section we find something very unique. Section L covers access to information and training materials. The very first requirement states “The employer shall make available to affected employees or their representatives copies of this standard and shall also post a copy in the workplace.” What?? A copy of the standard? Post a copy of the entire standard?
Yes, it means what it says. This is the only standard OSHA has that requires you to take a copy of the standard and post it. OSHA feels it’s important that in addition to training, employees have the chance to read the standard on their own without having to ask for it. It must be centrally posted and at no charge.
Updates to the Rule
This rule was written in 1983 and has not been updated since then. OSHA held firm on its stance in an interpretation letter written in 1988 from someone questioning posting the whole thing, but in 2016 OSHA decided to become a little more user friendly. In 2016 someone sent OSHA a letter requesting electronic posting. OSHA’s answer said they realized the internet was not around in the 80s, and thus, declared that with this letter, they were updating the policy to allow for electronic posting, but only under these certain conditions:
- Your Hearing Conservation training program covers specific information to your employees on where and how to access the entire standard electronically;
- The link you provide to employees does not go to a generic web page such as to your company’s website, a folder on your intranet or Sharepoint, or the home page for OSHA. It must go to the exact standard located here; and,
- Computers must be located in all affected employees’ work areas so that they can have access to the standard at any time without having to request access to a computer or without having to ask for assistance on where to find it electronically.
It may be low risk that you’ll get fined for just this item unless the inspector has a special place in their heart for this standard. However, it IS likely that it becomes an easy tack-on citation along with other citations of the noise exposure standard.
For example, in the state of Tennessee, this item is one of the most often items cited for this standard, but so are:
- Lack of training or lack of training program;
- Did not administer a continuing hearing conservation program when workplace noise levels indicated it was required;
- Lack of a monitoring program when information indicated the exposure levels may equal or exceed the limits;
- No audiometric testing program or audiometric testing;
- Did not establish a baseline audiogram within 6 months of an employee’s first exposure at or above the action level; and
- Not giving employees the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable hearing protectors provided by the employer.
Where Do You Stand on Noise?
When was the last time you had your workplace AND your workers tested for noise exposure? iSi conducts noise sampling, helps write programs, provides training and much more assistance for noise exposure issues. Contact us today!