Workplace Noise-Reduction Proposal Withdrawn by U.S.

The Obama administration withdrew a proposal that may have triggered new workplace noise-reduction requirements after business groups said the plan would be too expensive and hurt job creation.

“We are sensitive to the possible costs associated with improving worker protection and have decided to suspend work on this proposed modification while we study other approaches,” David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for workplace safety, said today in an e-mailed statement.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led business lobbying groups in opposing the measure, which was proposed in October, calling it an example of excessive regulation. President Barack Obama yesterday ordered a review of U.S. rules to remove or overhaul those that he said may stifle economic expansion without helping consumers.

“This proposal would have cost manufacturers billions of dollars and would have harmed job creation and economic growth when we need to be focused on creating jobs,” Joe Trauger, vice president for human resources policy at the manufacturers group, said today in an e-mail.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to revise the interpretation of requirements for protecting workers from loud noise, requiring companies to install soundproofing or replace machinery instead relying on ear phone or ear plugs. Construction companies, factories, steel mills, newspaper plants and possibly offices with blaring music may have been affected by the action, the manufacturers’ association said.

OSHA had said it was pursuing the change in noise policy because thousands of workers annually suffer from hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at hrosenkrantz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net

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