Industry groups ask federal court to review DOL's silica rule

Industry groups ask federal court to review DOL's silica rule
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Industry groups are challenging President Obama’s rule to protect workers from exposure to harmful silica dust.

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National construction organizations such as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are backing their local state chapter organizations in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to review the rule the Department of Labor finalized last month.

In a news release, the ABC said the construction industry raised numerous concerns when the rule was first proposed, but the Labor Department failed to address a number of those issues when promulgating the final rule.

“In particular, the industry presented substantial evidence that OSHA’s [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] proposed permissible exposure limit (PEL) was technologically and economically infeasible,” the group said. “The petitioning groups are concerned that the agency failed to take into account this evidence and moved forward with the same infeasible PEL in the final rule.”

Under the final rule, the Labor Department lowered worker exposure to 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air during the course of a regular eight-hour workday.

In addition to the ABC, national groups challenging the rule include the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the American Subcontractors Association, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Mason Contractors Association of America, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, and the National Association of Home Builders.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined the American Foundry Society in filing a petition of their own Monday in the Fifth Circuit.

“Relying on incredibly out-of-date data, this rule places undue burdens and irreparable harm on manufacturers, especially small and medium-sized businesses, some of which could be forced to shut their doors,” NAM’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly said in a statement.

“Manufacturers are and have always been committed to safe workplaces, and we take pride in continuing to find ways to improve the work environment, but this unnecessary regulation is not the solution.”