House chairman tells businesses to weigh in on silica rule

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“The effects of inhaling crystalline silica particles could present health risks for workers, therefore all stakeholders should consider this safety rule very carefully,” Graves said in a statement. 

“Because this rule could create new standards and requirements for small businesses in the construction, manufacturing, foundry, hydraulic fracturing, and many other industries, significant input from the small business community will help OSHA develop a regulation that both increases worker protection and safety and is cost-effective and feasible.”

The proposal has spent the last two years under review at the White House’s budget office, a delay that proponents have said will cost lives. 

According to OSHA, the new regulation will save 688 lives and prevent 1,600 cases of the lung disease silicosis each year.

The regulation will also affect about 470,000 small businesses or government offices, at an annual cost of $637 million. OSHA predicts that 1.3 million workers at small businesses are exposed to silica dust.

The size and scope of the rule, Graves indicated, means that small businesses that could be affected should weigh in.

The committee is also looking at other ways to make sure regulations don't have too big an impact on small businesses.

On Wednesday, the panel will take up the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, which would require regulators to consider the indirect costs of new rules and subject more proposals to panel analyses. 

Public interest advocates have criticized that legislation for being too sweeping. They have said that it would needlessly delay critical protections and end up costing businesses even more money.