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Construction Industry Safety Coalition Opposes OSHA’s Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, an organization representing twenty-five different construction trade associations, recently issued the following statement regarding the rule on Crystalline Silica proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”):

After an exhaustive analysis that involved hundreds of construction safety professionals, builders, construction managers and specialty trade contractors representing virtually every facet on the industry, it is our conclusion that the administration’s proposed new silica rule is significantly flawed and will do little to improve workplace health or safety.  Specifically, the proposed rule sets a silica exposure standard that cannot be accurately measured or protected against with existing equipment and includes a series of data errors that undermine many of the rule’s basic assumptions.

The proposed rule’s new silica exposure limit is virtually impossible to accurately measure or protect against using existing technology.  For example, commercially-available dust collection technology is not capable by itself of protecting workers from the rule’s new silica exposure limit.  A limitation the agency appears to acknowledge in its additional requirement that workers also wear respirators, something that would not be necessary if the dust collection technology was effective.

Even more troubling, the proposal is rife with errors and inaccurate data that call into question the entire rulemaking process.  Agency officials, for example, omitted 1.5 million construction workers from its assessment of the size of the affected workforce.  The agency also did not consider the broad range of tasks and variety of settings and environments in which construction occurs.  And the agency’s assessment of the rule’s cost was off by a factor of four.

Given the lack of scientific explanation justifying the new exposure limits, the many contradictions between the rule and the realities faced in the construction industry, and the fact that agency officials made significant errors in the basic data the rule is based on, we are urging the administration to withdraw this proposed rule.  We strongly urge agency officials to work with us and employee groups to craft a silica measure that will build upon the work all of us have done to reduce silica-related deaths by 93 percent during the past three decades.

Contemporaneous with the above statement, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition filed its comments to OSHA’s proposed Crystalline Silica rule, which are available here.  Additional information about OSHA’s proposed rule, including the full text of the rule is available on OSHA’s website.