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OSHA Challenged On New Silica Protections

Posted on 4/11/2016 by Roger Marks

Major industry groups filed suit in the US Fifth Court of Appeals this week to challenge OSHA’s new permissible exposure limit (PEL) for breathable silica. Among the challengers to the new OSHA silica rule is the ACG, the Associated General Contractors of America.

Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the AGC, had the following to say: “…we have significant concerns about whether this new rule is technically feasible, given that the agency’s final permissible exposure limit is beyond the capacity of existing dust filtration and removal technology.”

In its dispatch to Congress, the ACG requests that the Speaker of the House sign on to a letter that urges Congress to “force OSHA to prove that their proposed rule to regulate the hazards of crystalline silica exposure is technologically and economically feasible prior to finalization, implementation, or enforcement.” 

The legal challenge is unlikely to surprise anyone who’s followed OSHA’s efforts to regulate breathable silica for employees in general industry workplaces, construction job sites, and maritime jobs. Silica is a component of sand and quartz and covers more than 10% of the earth’s crust. In other words, the stuff is everywhere—which is why creating exposure limits for respirable silica took half a century.

quartz rocks containing silica
 
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