Source: Constangy Brooks & Smith LLP

OSHA has recently added a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) imposing an additional obligation on employers to ensure that the health care professionals who review annual audiograms apply the correct definition when determining whether an employee’s hearing loss is work-related.

Section 1904.10(a) sets out the criteria for determining whether an employee’s hearing loss needs to be recorded. Under that regulation, if an employee’s annual audiogram shows that the employee’s hearing measured at 2000, 3000, and 4000 Hz has (1) deteriorated to at least 25 dB from audiometric zero and (2) incurred an
age-adjusted Standard Threshold Shift, the case is recordable if the hearing loss is determined to be work-related. The hearing loss regulation states in subsection 10(b)(5) that work relationship should be determined according to the rules set out in § 1904.5, which addresses the general concept of work relationship. Section 1904.10(b)(6) states, however, that an employer is not required to consider a case to be work-related if a health care professional determines that the hearing loss is not work-related. On its face, § 1904.10(b)(6) would seemingly take the determination of work relationship out of the hands of employers who can defer to the health care professional’s judgment. Under the present wording of the regulation, an employer presumably would not be cited for failure to record any hearing loss case determined not to be work-related by a health care professional, regardless of how the health care professional reached this medical conclusion.  Click here for rest of article.