BOSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a new outreach and enforcement regional emphasis program targeting the hazards of high noise levels in various manufacturing industries in New England. The regional emphasis program will focus on workplaces engaged in the manufacturing and fabrication of metal, plastic, stone and wood products, as well as meat, dairy and bakery production.

"Hearing loss is a serious matter. Exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected through surgery," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. "To prevent that from happening to workers, we are encouraging employers to explore and pursue better safeguards for their employees against everyday workplace noise hazards."

The program will identify and inspect workplaces with high noise levels and provide outreach to employers. OSHA will conduct the outreach and targeted enforcement phases of the regional emphasis program concurrently to raise awareness among employers and employees about the hazards associated with exposure to high levels of noise activities.

Approximately 22 million workers nationwide are exposed to potentially damaging noise yearly, and thousands of workers annually suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels. In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 20,000 cases of work-related hearing loss. OSHA offers information about noise hazards at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/index.html.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Boston office at 617-565-9860.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

Source: OSHA

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