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OSHA Decision on Noise Will Hurt Workers

This decision by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its proposed interpretation of the federal noise standard, which would have specified that employers need to protect workers from excess noise exposure using engineering and administrative controls, when feasible, is bad for workers. Without a doubt, some workers will suffer hearing loss because of it. After all, the current standard is not strict enough to prevent permanent hearing loss in the first place, and now OSHA has stated that it will not even enforce the rules as they are currently on the books in this respect.
The more disturbing aspect of this decision, though, is that this decision seems to indicate a willingness on the part of the President and the administration to sacrifice the health and well-being of America’s workers for the sake of political expediency. Perhaps the timing of this decision is coincidental, but the fact is that this development comes just days after President Obama used the Wall Street Journal to let the business community know that he’s looking to mitigate the ‘unreasonable burdens on businesses’ that ‘sometimes have a chilling effect on growth and jobs.’
The Obama administration should not be fooled into accepting the canard that worker protections are “job-killing.” Economic growth and job creation can, and must, go hand in hand with safe and healthy jobs for American workers. The fact is, nearly 5,000 workers die on the job each year, and tens of thousands more are injured. American workers deserve better. They deserve a workplace where, at a minimum, the most basic protections are in place to make sure they can go home after a hard day on the job, safe and sound.