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OSHA launching emphasis program on hearing loss


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday will begin enforcement of its Regional Emphasis Program for Noise Induced Hearing Loss in several states where manufacturing businesses have seen an uptick in injuries.

The emphasis program targets manufacturing industries with high rates of occupational hearing loss in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to an announcement.

Historically, hearing loss is the most recorded occupational illness in manufacturing, except for illnesses related to COVID-19 in 2020, according to OSHA. In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that potentially damaging noise levels put 18 million workers at risk and produced 14,500 cases of work-related hearing loss. Like many occupational injuries, work-related hearing loss is preventable when controls are implemented, proper protection is provided and required standards are followed. Excessive noise exposure has been shown to also cause increased physiological stress, muscle tension, loss of sleep and fatigue, according to OSHA.

“This regional emphasis program will help ensure manufacturing employers in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota do what is necessary to protect their workers from exposures to excessive noise and prevent permanent hearing loss,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer Rous in Denver in the statement. “OSHA hopes the emphasis program will remind manufacturing industry employers to follow required safety standards and alert workers to the related hazards and reduce workplace injuries.”