SBA office asks OSHA for more comment time on safety rule

“Advocacy believes this request is justified by the length and complexity of the proposed rule and the enormity of the rulemaking docket,” they added.

The advocacy office also asked OSHA to schedule additional public hearings to “ensure that actual small businesses are able to participate.” 

Silica dust is often released at construction sties and other industrial workplaces, but the OSHA rule to limit worker exposure was in the works for a decade before it was unveiled this year.

According to OSHA’s estimates, the regulation will save almost 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of the lung disease silicosis each year. 

Consumer advocates, who have been suspicious that the SBA Advocacy Office has been doing the bidding of large corporations, criticized the letter.

In a blog post on Wednesday, Center for Progressive Reform policy analyst Matt Shudtz wrote that “each day of delay in publishing the new rule means another day when millions of workers will be exposed to elevated levels of a deadly dust.” 

He noted that before it was unveiled, the draft rule already went through a review to get small businesses’ reactions, as all OSHA regulations do.

“If this administration wants an OSHA health standard to its credit, it cannot afford to delay this rule any longer at the behest of the regulated industries,” he wrote.

The Obama administration published the 755-page draft rule in August, and said it would accept comments for 90 days. 

After that, the agency will decide if changes need to be made before finalizing the regulation.