OSHA Issues Long-Delayed Silica Rules

By March 29, 2016 No Comments

From: The Hill, 24 March 2016

“Millions of construction and manufacturing workers will be protected from harmful silica dust under long-delayed rules from the Obama administration.  The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Thursday it is cutting in half the level of silica workers could be exposed to on the job.

Silica has been linked to lung cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to the Labor Department, which estimates the new rules will save 600 lives a year.

The Labor Department will cut the silica exposure rate to no more than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air during the course of a regular, eight-hour work day.  The current standard for manufacturers is set at 100 micrograms; it can be as high as 250 micrograms in the construction industry.  Workers in these industries will also be trained to protect themselves from exposure to silica and will face routine medical exams.

Labor groups applauded the silica protections, but industry blasted the rule as costly and unnecessary.

The Labor Department’s proposed rule was delayed for more than two years before the White House’s Office of Management and Budget approved it. After a lengthy comment period and a number of public hearings, the agency is just now finalizing the rule.”

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