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Then, on Jan. 20, apparently hearing the pitter patter of angry Republican congressional feet, David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, announced the agency was withdrawing the possible reinterpretation.
"It is clear from the concerns raised about this proposal that addressing this problem requires much more public outreach and many more resources than we had originally anticipated," Michaels says.
OSHA isn't going to ditch its concern about noise levels entirely, though. Michaels cites statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that show since 2004, nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. "OSHA remains committed to finding ways to reduce this toll," he added.
He promised a "robust outreach and compliance assistance effort to provide enhanced technical information and guidance on the many inexpensive, effective engineering controls for dangerous noise levels." Compliance, in the regulatory argot, can often mean more inspections and more fines. But Michaels did not go that far -- at least not yet.