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New Alliance Formed between OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Hearing Conservatio

Washington -- A new Alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) was recently formed to provide information to NHCA members, young employees, small businesses and others on reducing and preventing exposure to noise and ototoxic (hearing damaging) chemicals.

"Millions of employees face the risk of hearing loss due to occupational exposure to high noise levels on the job," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. "We are pleased to join with these organizations. Through this Alliance, we are committed to develop and provide resources to eliminate the risk of hearing loss, and help employers protect the hearing of their employees."

The Alliance will develop guidance and training materials on the recognition and prevention of hearing loss caused by workplace hazards, and communicate such information through workshops, seminars, print and electronic media. OSHA will utilize the expertise of NIOSH and NHCA representatives to develop compliance assistance tools and web pages to help employers and employees in affected industries. Alliance representatives will address hearing conservation issues at annual conferences, meetings and other events.

"We are pleased to join with OSHA and NHCA in this collaboration to prevent work-related hearing loss, one of the most common occupational illnesses," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "This is a particularly important and timely collaboration for protecting young workers from exposures that can greatly diminish their quality of life, and for helping small businesses stay productive and competitive in today's demanding economy."

Deanna Meinke, Ph.D., president of NHCA, stated, "By participating in this formal Alliance, NHCA looks forward to sharing our member's expertise, field experiences and creativity with OSHA and NIOSH. NHCA envisions successful advancements in our mutual efforts to reduce and ultimately prevent hearing loss due to workplace noise and ototoxin exposure."

NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. The agency's 1400-member staff represents a wide range of disciplines including epidemiology, medicine, industrial hygiene, safety, and psychology. The NHCA is a national organization that focuses on preventing hearing loss due to noise and other environmental factors. Its members include audiologists, engineers, industrial hygienists, and safety and medical professionals who provide guidance on hearing loss prevention through educational opportunities, conferences, publications, and collaboration with other professional organizations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.

For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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