Today's News / Safety in the Construction Industry / Environmental and Occupational Health

Union head calls silica rule delay heartless

An estimated 100 died during two years of inaction

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said it’s time for the Obama administration to push forward on a proposed silica delay that has been stuck in limbo at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for two years – long past the required 90 day deadline.

In a blog post on, Trumka blamed “well-funded knee-jerk opposition by business trade groups and industry associations” for blocking the stronger silica dust limits proposed by OSHA.

“I've seen how hard it is to take on the heavyweight corporate lobbyists who hold so much sway in Washington,” wrote Trumka. “But I've also seen what a worker's struggle for breath looks like. You see, I come from a three-generation coal-mining family in a coal-mining town. We know what work can do to a person's lungs.”

He called the silica rule delay “inexcusable and heartless.”

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) estimates that during the two-year delay, 100 people have died and thousands have become ill from silica exposure.

Workers can be exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust through cutting, drilling, grinding, or otherwise disturbing material that might contain silica, such as during construction or mining jobs.

Studies have found a strong association between silica exposure and lung cancer, kidney disease and autoimmune system disorders. Yet, OSHA does not have a comprehensive, protective standard on the books to address it.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that 1.7 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to silica dust.

Industry groups who oppose new standards argue that current regulations are sufficient and that new ones will cost them billions of dollars annually and as many as 170,000 jobs over the next decade. The proposal is estimated to carry an economic impact in excess of $100 million.

Proponents of a silica rule have launched an online petition demanding that President Obama take action on it. Click here for more information.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Scenes from the World of Safety

Sights, signs & symbols from the National Safety Congress & Expo held in San Diego, CA, September 15-18

4/14/15 2:00 pm EDT

RISK-BASED SAFETY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM: Key Components for Applying Risk Tools to EHS Efforts

Join us for this webinar as we discuss how you can make effective use of risk analysis and risk management technology to guide efforts within your organization. We will distinguish between risk analysis and risk management; and identify some of the software tools that will help proactively identify, document, mitigate, and prevent high-risk events. You will learn how to improve compliance, reduce risk, and cut costs in your organization using these automated tools.

ISHN Magazine


2015 April

Check out ISHN's April issue, which features content about lockout-tagout, heat stress, hearing protection and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - January 2015



For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. 



Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.