DOL targets wood industry for excessive noise

Wood manufacturing operations, sawmills and wood preservation facilities are three industries being targeted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for excessive noise. 

Operations that are highly likely to generate high-levels of noise that are located in the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia, may be inspected under the recently renewed  Regional Emphasis Program. Procedures used to develop a roster of industries to inspect included those industry groups with a previous history of OSHA noise citations during the period October 2017 through September 2018.

Industries affected include: 

          NAICS   Description

  • 32111     Sawmills and Wood Preservation
  • 32192    Wood Container and Pallet Manufacturing
  • 32199    Other Wood Manufacturing
  • 32619    Other Plastics and Product Manufacturing
  • 32799    All Other Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
  • 33231    Plate Work and Fabricated Structural Product Manufacturing
  • 33232    Ornamental and Architectural Metal Products
  • 33281    Coating, Engraving, Heat Treating, and Allied Activities
  • 33299    All Other Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing
  • 33661    Ship and Boat Building

“Noise controls are the first line of prevention against permanent work-related hearing loss. By reducing noise levels even by a few decibels, employers can better protect employees, improve communication and stop excessive noise from distracting workers,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Rivera in Philadelphia.

A common workplace health concern, hearing loss can be permanent and debilitating. Potential hearing loss is a hazard for about 22 million U.S. workers, the National Institute Occupational Safety and Health estimates. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found about 12,000 workers suffered work-related hearing loss with 9,700 of them workers employed in the manufacturing industry.

To protect people employed in industries with high-risk noise issues, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Philadelphia renewed the regional program first established in 2018. The renewed REP will focus OSHA’s efforts on manufacturing industry employers under federal jurisdiction for a five-year term. 

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Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).