OSHA also announced it is postponing its Aug. 22 deadline for hearing tests for employes who work in noisy sites such as sawmills, oil fields, textile mills and shipyards. During its last week in office, the Carter administration issued rules requiring employers to monitor noisy workplaces and to test their workers' hearing. Employers had one year to complete the tests, which would be used later to see if an employe had suffered any hearing loss.

The Reagan administration has been revising the Carter regulations and, so far, has been able to lower their expected cost to industry from $234.6 million to $181.5 million by following what Auchter calls a "performance approach."

"This means we set forth a strict regulatory goal but . . . permit employers flexibility in how they achieve it," he said. For example, the old rules required employers to monitor the noise exposure of a representative worker at the job site, while the new rule lets employers decide if they want to monitor a worker or overall noise levels in an area.

OSHA said it was postponing the hearing tests because it expects to finish revising the Carter hearing program soon, complete with a new test deadline and new rules about how the tests should be given.

Peg Seminario of the AFL-CIO called the move "a last-minute attempt by OSHA to further delay and weaken the hearing standard."