Search form

OSHA Sends Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule to OMB for Final Review

By Bradford T. Hammock
  • January 7, 2016

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has sent its comprehensive rule governing worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget for final review.

Silicosis is a uniquely occupational lung disease resulting from employees’ exposure to crystalline silica. The disease can be fatal, but data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows a steady decline in fatalities from silicosis since 1968. Despite the decline, in 2013, OSHA published a comprehensive proposal to reduce significantly the permissible exposure limit (“PEL”) for the substance, along with numerous ancillary provisions designed, in the agency’s view, to further protect workers.

During a conference call with stakeholders on December 21, the day the rule went to OMB, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez noted that existing standards are more than 40 years old and are inadequate to protect workers. He added that some provisions of the final rule differ from those originally proposed. As to the proposed rule, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels, who also participated in the conference call, noted the agency received more than 2,000 public comments with more than 34,000 pages in submitted materials.

The rule is expected to cover silica-exposed workers in general industry, construction, and maritime. Industry sectors expected to be particularly affected include foundries, abrasive blasting operations, paint manufacture, glass and concrete product manufacture, brick making, china and pottery manufacture, manufacture of plumbing fixtures, and many construction activities, including highway repair, masonry, concrete work, rock drilling, and tuckpointing. OSHA put the cost of the proposed rule at $664 million per year, a figure far below the billions industry representatives have forecasted. The agency also claimed the proposed rule would prevent nearly 700 deaths and more than 1,600 cases of silicosis yearly, and bring about annual monetized benefits of $2.8 billion to $4.7 billion.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration also is considering a silica regulation and has stated its intention to release a proposed rule in April 2016.

©2016 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

November 16, 2017

Transportation Department Expands Drug Testing Panel to Include Certain ‘Semi-Synthetic’ Opioids

November 16, 2017

Employers regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should revise their drug and alcohol testing policies to conform to new DOT regulations that added four “semi-synthetic” opioid drugs to the DOT drug testing panel. The new regulations go into effect on January 1, 2018. DOT announced in a rule published in the Federal... Read More

October 27, 2017

What Employers Need to Know about OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule for Construction

October 27, 2017

Full enforcement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new respirable crystalline silica rule in the construction industry began on October 23, 2017, according to the agency. The silica rule is one of the most comprehensive health standards ever issued for the construction industry and significantly reduces the... Read More

August 23, 2017

Mine Safety Agency Implements Medical Standards Action Plan for Inspectors, Technical Personnel

August 23, 2017

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will implement an action plan for employees who do not meet the agency’s medical standards.   As a condition of employment, MSHA inspectors and technical personnel must undergo periodic medical examinations, including vision and hearing tests, and meet medical standards set by the Office... Read More

Related Practices