OSHA seeks to define 'feasible' controls in noise standard

October 21, 2010

OSHA is seeking comment by Dec. 20 on its official interpretation of the term "feasible administrative or engineering controls," as used in the occupational noise standard.

OSHA's noise standard directs employers to use "feasible administrative or engineering controls" to reduce noise to acceptable levels, and personal protective equipment such as earplugs as supplements when controls are not completely effective. However, OSHA currently cites employers for failure to use controls only when hearing protectors are ineffective or controls cost less than a hearing conservation program.

Under the proposed interpretation (.pdf file), the meaning of "feasible" would be consistent with its usual definition -- "capable of being done." OSHA also would change its enforcement policy to authorize issuing citations requiring the use of administrative and engineering controls as long as the cost does not threaten the employer's ability to remain in business.