Statement | Unions and Labor Standards

Statement in Support of Department of Labor’s Proposed Crystalline Silica Rulemaking

Rulemaking is an important step to improve worker safety

The Economic Policy Institute salutes the Department of Labor’s announcement that OSHA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register. This will start a process of public comment and hearing to help create the final rule and better protect millions of workers from silicosis, heart disease, and lung cancer.

Crystalline silica has been recognized as a killer since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, yet  the inhalation of silica dust kills hundreds of American workers every year and disables even more, destroying lives and imposing terrible financial burdens on thousands of families. The OSHA standard that sets limits on workers’ exposures to silica dust has been ineffective in preventing these ills, and the National institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been calling for a new standard for more than 20 years.

President Obama, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels are showing the kind of leadership that workers need and deserve.  No one should die or have their health destroyed by a preventable disease like silicosis as the price of trying to earn a living.


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