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

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.

"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," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.

NIOSH is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. The agency's 1,400-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.