Check the box for hearing loss cases on OSHA 300

Provision to record MSDs delayed again

Employers will need to record hearing-loss cases in a separate column on the OSHA log beginning Jan. 1, 2004, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) announced.

The agency again delayed the new definition of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) contained in its record-keeping standard and the use of a separate column to collect data on MSDs. They will continue to be reported with other occupational injuries. "While the agency has not yet decided on the correct approach for dealing with the Part 1904 MSD definition, OSHA plans to publish a final rule in 2003 to resolve the MSD definition issue for the year 2004 and beyond," the agency said in a Federal Register notice.1

The hearing-loss and MSD recording provisions had been delayed since the record-keeping standard became effective Jan. 1, 2002. Hearing-loss is recordable if there is a 10-dB shift from baseline, and the overall hearing loss represents a shift of at least 25 dB.

"Data from the new column will improve the nation’s statistical information on occupational hearing loss, improve the agency’s ability to determine where the injuries occur, and help prioritize hearing loss prevention efforts," OSHA administrator John L. Henshaw said in a statement.

OSHA also acknowledged that the new hearing-loss criteria will lead to an increase in the number of hearing-loss cases reported. The new criteria became effective Jan. 1, 2003.

"Caution must be used when comparing the 2003 and future data to prior years, when the 25 dB criteria for record keeping was used," the agency said. "OSHA recognizes this increase, and will take the changes in the record-keeping rule into account when evaluating an employer’s injury and illness experience."

OSHA also clarified the use of a baseline to determine the standard threshold shift. "An annual audiogram may be substituted for the baseline audiogram when, in the judgment of the audiologist, otolaryngologist, or physician who is evaluating the audiogram: The standard threshold shift revealed by the audiogram is persistent, or the hearing threshold shown in the annual audiogram indicates significant improvement over the baseline audiogram."

Reference

1. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational injury and illness recording and reporting requirements. 67 Fed Reg 77,167 (Dec. 17, 2002).


New HIV test is as easy as a pregnancy test

The Food and Drug Administration approved a quick HIV test that only requires a fingerstick of blood and takes 20 minutes.

The OraQuick Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test, manufactured by OraSure Technologies of Bethlehem, PA, uses simple technology similar to that of a pregnancy test.

In the test, a small blood sample is placed in a vial, where it is mixed with a developing solution. If HIV-1 antibodies are present in the solution, a dipstick-style device will display two reddish-purple lines in a small window.

In clinical tests, OraQuick had a sensitivity of 99.6%. Positive results must be confirmed by additional testing. The test can be stored at room temperature and requires no specialized equipment. More information on the test is available at www.orasure.com.