Proposed Silica Limits Could Harm Industry
Per OSHA, allowable exposures to silica in the construction industry will be cut to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour period from 250 micrograms. In other industries, which currently see a standard of 100 micrograms, that cut-off point will be reduced by half.
OSHA says the change will “save roughly 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis, an incurable disease caused by exposure to silica dust.” However, the much stricter rules will come at a cost, especially for smaller businesses. Those operations will have to pay the same amount for a newly-mandated ventilation system that a large company would. Customers may see the costs of compliance in higher prices down the road.
While the new rules will take effect this year, construction employers will have until one year later, on June 23, 2017, to comply with the new OSHA requirements. General industries, such as plastics manufacturers, will have until June 23, 2018 – oil and gas operations will have until June 23, 2021.
National Association of Home Builders Chairman Ed Brady is asking that Congress come out against the new ruling. According to Brady, the new rule will “do great harm to businesses, consumers, and the economy.”
The Department of Labor predicts that around 2.3 million workers will be impacted by the new rules in the United States. Of those, around 2 million of them work in construction-related industries.
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