CenterPoint Home Energy Program
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

OSHA Faces Opposition to Silica Rule

Industry stakeholders say the rule is unnecessary, costly and difficult to implement. 

OSHA’S FINAL RULE limiting workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica—scheduled to take effect June 23—is facing opposition in the construction industry. By reducing exposure, the rule aims to decrease workers’ susceptibility to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease, according to OSHA. The rule consists of a standard for Construction and another for the General Industry and Maritime.

In response, many construction and manufacturing organizations have filed lawsuits, stating the rule is unnecessary and will be expensive and difficult to implement. For example, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association and the Georgia Construction Aggregates Association filed a joint petition in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against the rule. The organizations say the current standard is successful in limiting workers’ crystalline silica exposure. OSHA states nearly 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica at work, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone, as well as 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing.