Violating OSHA Noise Standards: An Expensive Lesson

A Pennsylvania company recently learned of the expensive cost associated with failing to meet OSHA’s hearing conservation requirements.  On August 14, 2015, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined a pallet repair and rental company a whopping $53,100 for violations of 29 CFR 1910.95, the OSHA Noise Exposure Standard.

OSHA cited the company as follows:

  • Serious violation for failure to provide baseline hearing tests for those exposed at or above the Action Level of 85 dBA TWA.
  • Serious violation for failure to provide annual hearing tests for those exposed at or above the Action Level.
  • Willful violation for lack of feasible administrative or engineering controls.  The company was previously cited for this issue in August of 2014.  This Willful citation alone is $49,500 of the entire $53,100 fine.
  • Two Other-than-Serious violations of requirements not related to hearing conservation.

Noise levels in the facility measured as high as 93.3 dBA TWA, high enough to cause hearing loss over time.  OSHA does not permit employee exposures higher than 90 dBA TWA, called the Permissible Exposure Level or PEL.

Violating OSHA Noise Standards: An Expensive Lesson

When exposures exceed the PEL, OSHA can (though not necessarily will) issue a citation for lack of feasible engineering and administrative noise controls.

At an exposure level of 85 dBA TWA, called the Action Level, a multitude of requirements are specified to include baseline and annual hearing testing, annual hearing conservation training, the provision of hearing protection and periodic noise surveys.  OSHA takes these requirements seriously because they are necessary for an effective hearing conservation program, one that significantly reduces the long-term risk of hearing loss and workplace accidents.

For over 25 years, The EI Group has assisted companies to meet OSHA’s requirements by developing effective hearing conservation programs.  Our staff of Audiologists, Industrial Hygienists and Professional Engineers is expert in all aspects of the Noise Exposure Standard’s requirements from noise surveys to noise control engineering to audiometric testing and training.

Let us show you how EI can significantly improve your company’s hearing conservation program. Their website is HERE.

Photo by kohlmann.sascha