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OSHA Issues Final Rule on Recordkeeping Hearing Loss

OSHA issued a final rule today (July 1) in the Federal Register that revises the criteria for recording work-related hearing loss as of January 1, 2003. The agency also will seek comments on a proposal involving the recording of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on OSHA's injury and illness logs.

Beginning in 2003, employers will be required to record work-related hearing loss cases when an employee's hearing test shows a marked decreased in overall hearing. Under the new rule, the criteria will record 10-decibel shifts from the employee's initial hearing test when they also result in an overall hearing level of 25 decibels. The old criteria recorded 25-decibel shifts. Employers can make adjustments for hearing loss caused by aging, seek the advice of a physician or licensed health care professional to determine if the loss is work-related, and perform additional hearing tests to verify the persistence of the hearing loss.

"Hearing loss can result in a serious disbility and put employees at risk of being injured on the job," OSHA Administrator John Henshaw said. "This approach will help employers better protect their workers and help all of us improve our national injury and illness statistics and prevent future hearing loss among our nation's workers."

The agency seeks public comments on a proposed one-year delay of the recordkeeping rule's definition of MSDs and whether to include MSDs and hearing loss columns on the OSHA Form 300 Log of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Written comments on the agency's propsal to delay must be submitted by August 30 in triplicate to the Docket Office, Docket R-02B, Room N2625, Occupational SAfety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 20010. Electronic comments may be submitted to; or facsimile at (202) 693-1648.