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Senate Budget Bill Adds Steps to OSHA’s Silica Rulemaking Process

OSHA must conduct additional reviews and research before updating its Silica Standard, under a funding bill that passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee June 25.

Along with other trade groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and IPAA, PESA sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee June 24, on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rulemaking to revise the standard on occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS). This proposed regulation is deeply flawed and we believe OSHA has failed to answer many fundamental questions and conduct an adequate review of the data before rushing forward with this regulation.

Senator Hoeven offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill that would require OSHA to properly study and address several key questions before finalizing the silica rule. Senator Hoeven’s amendment is a constructive step towards ensuring the most modern and efficient approaches to protect employees from the dangers of RCS are implemented.

OSHA’s proposed silica regulation would impose billions of dollars of cost on employers that would result in less economic growth and significantly impede the exploration and development of new and badly needed sources of energy while possibly not addressing the most effective way to protect human health. It would also cause tremendous disruption in industries that are still struggling in the aftermath of the recession such as construction and foundries. Most importantly, OSHA has not supported the proposal with adequate data or answered several questions that are central to the rulemaking.