OSHA delays Obama-era safety rule on silica

OSHA delays Obama-era safety rule on silica

The Department of Labor is delaying a controversial safety rule on silica exposure.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last year lowered the permissible exposure limit to silica dust for construction workers. The new rule was set to go into effect on June 23.

But the Trump administration announced Thursday it is delaying the silica rule for construction companies by three months, until September.

This isn’t the first time the silica rule has been delayed. 

ADVERTISEMENT
OSHA proposed changes to the rule in February 2011 during the Obama administration, but the White House kept the rule in review for more than two years.

Nearly five years later, the Obama administration eventually agreed to cut the maximum silica exposure level in half to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. 

A large amount of exposure to silica dust is believed to cause lung cancer, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the agency said

Labor and public health groups on Thursday blasted the latest delay.

"The labor movement has fought for decades to win this lifesaving rule, and any further delay is unacceptable," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement. "The longer the Trump administration delays, the more workers will suffer and die."

Public health advocates say the silica rule hasn’t been updated since the 1970s. But business groups say it would cost too much for industry to comply with.