Proposed rule would save nearly 700 lives per year, OSHA says
The agency has proposed a new rule that will bring protections "into the 21st century."
Exposure to airborne silica dust can lead to lung cancer, silicosis -- an incurable and progressive disease, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease, the agency says. Workers can be exposed if they are involved in cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick block, and other stone products, and in operations that use sand products such as glass manufacturing, foundries, and sandblasting.
"Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually," the agency says.
The proposed rule includes "common sense measures" such as "keeping the material wet so dust doesn't become airborne," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "It is designed to give employers flexibility in selecting ways to meet the standard."
The proposal includes two separate standards -- one for construction and one for general industry and maritime employment. Both include a new exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica and widely used methods for controlling worker exposure, conducting medical surveillance, training workers about silica-related hazards, and recordkeeping measures.
The agency is accepting written comments and will conduct public hearings on the proposal.
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 14, 2013
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