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OSHA launches emphasis program to help protect Midwest workers from hazardous noise

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Kansas City, MO — A new Regional Emphasis Program from OSHA is aimed at safeguarding workers in the Midwest from occupational noise hazards that can lead to permanent hearing loss.

About 70% of all workers are exposed to moderately loud noise levels, while more than 10% face harmful noise levels on the job, an OSHA press releases states, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, NIOSH reports that more than half of noise-exposed workers say they don’t wear hearing protection.

Set to expire Oct. 1, 2026, the REP applies to employers in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, and targets general industry and construction establishments that “commonly have occupational noise hazard exposure which is causing or likely to cause injury, illness or permanent disability.” The program features two primary elements: outreach to encourage employers to address and correct hazards, and an inspection initiative to ensure necessary steps are taken to reduce noise hazards and prevent injuries.

 

OSHA requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when the average noise exposure over 8 working hours reaches or exceeds 85 decibels. The agency provides hearing conservation guidelines.

“Hearing conservation programs are designed to protect workers’ hearing and prevent irreversible hearing loss,” Steven J. Kaplan, acting administrator of OSHA’s Region 7, said in the release. “These programs also provide employers and workers with the knowledge and equipment to control and reduce their exposure to noise.”

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