NSSGA gives OSHA additional info on proposed silica rule

By |  June 9, 2014

NSSGA filed additional information and data with OSHA following the agency’s public hearings in March and April on a proposed respirable crystalline silica rule.

OSHA’s proposed rule includes a new exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica and details widely used methods for controlling worker exposure, conducting medical surveillance, training workers about silica-related hazards and recordkeeping measures. It includes two standards: one for construction and one for general industry and maritime employment. OSHA says it currently enforces 40-year-old permissible exposure limits for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards. It believes the limits are outdated, inconsistent between industries and do not adequately protect worker health.

NSSGA says OSHA’s proposal is important to its members because a silica standard would directly affect ready-mix and asphalt concrete operations, many aggregate sales yards, and practically all members’ customers. OSHA’s regulatory analysis also will have an impact on the silica rule for mining operations that MSHA plans to propose. MSHA intended to publish its proposal this month, however this target date has since changed, according to NSSGA.

NSSGA filed corrections to the hearing testimony transcript and clarifications of pre-hearing comments it submitted in February. NSSGA also provided, at OSHA’s request, a copy of its Occupational Health Program following its discussion at the public hearing in March. NSSGA has until July 18 to submit its final arguments and brief to the OSHA rulemaking record. The organization says all of its members are welcome to add their timely input.

OSHA intends to reduce the workplace limit for airborne silica by half. NSSGA believes OSHA’s proposal will not improve worker health and will cost employers billions of dollars, however. NSSGA says scientific evidence indicates the current exposure limit protects workers from silica-related disease when it is universally complied with and universally enforced. Since 1971, when the current limit took effect, silicosis-related deaths in the United States have dropped by more than 93 percent, NSSGA says.

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