The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule that revises the criteria for recording work-related hearing loss.

Under the new rule, employers must record hearing loss cases when a 10-decibel shift from the employee's initial hearing test also results in a cumulative hearing loss of 25 decibels above audiometric zero. The old threshold criteria required recording 25-decibel shifts.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2003, employers will be required to follow the new rules for reporting work-related hearing loss cases. Employers can make adjustments for hearing loss caused by aging, seek the advice of a physician or licensed healthcare professional to determine if the loss is work-related, and perform additional hearing tests to verify the persistence of the hearing loss.