Description: The Department of Labor announced a 3-month delay in the enforcement of the final rule on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica in the construction industry, which established a new permissible exposure limit for construction workers. The rule is comprised of two permissible exposure standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime. The rule became effective June 23, 2016, and enforcement was to begin on June 23, 2017. The Department stated that its decision to delay enforcement was based on the desire to conduct additional outreach to the regulated community and to provide additional time to train compliance officers.
Fair Economy Impact: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued this rule to reduce workers’ exposure to cancer-causing respirable crystalline silica. Studies have linked exposure to silica to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease. About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls silica dust with a simple water spray to wet the dust down, or a vacuum system to contain the dust. OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year, once its effects are fully realized. The final rule already had a built-in, one-year grace period to give employers time to adjust their practices. Further delaying enforcement of this rule needlessly puts workers’ lives at risk, and is unfair to responsible employers who do not cut corners with health and safety.
- Announced on April 6, 2017
- Enforcement delayed until September 23, 2017