OSHA’s final rule on Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline may not be so final after all. During a hearing yesterday by the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections entitled, “Reviewing Recent Changes to OSHA’s Silica Standards,” its chairman, Republican Congressman Tim Wahlberg (MI-07), hinted that Congress may attempt a legislative end run around the regulation.
When I learned about the dangers of silica dust in medical school in the 1970s, at the beginning of my career in occupational medicine, I thought silica dust was only of historical interest, or a hazard for just a few especially vulnerable workers with unscrupulous employers.
Reactions to the final silica rule issued last week by OSHA have been sharply – and predictably – divided. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that millions of workers “can literally breathe easier knowing that they will not have to sacrifice their lungs and their lives by working in deadly silica dust. The new OSHA silica rules—nearly 20 years in the making—will save hundreds of workers’ lives a year.”
When he was a kid, Tom Ward thought his dad was Superman, especially because he worked with his hands. When I sat down with Tom a few weeks ago, he talked about how heroic and invincible his father seemed, about his athleticism and his work ethic. But years of working as a sandblaster had taken their toll. They turned out to be this Superman’s kryptonite.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have developed a novel technique that makes it possible to measure silica dust quickly and easily at the mine site. Silica dust exposure can causes silicosis, an irreversible, but preventable, occupational lung disease.
In an OSHA hazard alert, “Hydraulic Fracturing and Flowback Hazards Other than Respirable Silica,” (issued in late 2014), the agency states that more workers are potentially exposed to the hazards created by hydraulic fracturing and flowback operations due to the large increase in the number of these operations in the past decade.
A short, documentary-style video examining the devastating effects of silicosis has won PR Daily’s 2013 Video Award for Best Safety Video. Produced by the U.S. Department of Labors' Office of Public Affairs, “Silicosis: Deadly Dust” features interviews with doctors, department officials and stone carvers, painting a haunting picture of living with the disease and why it is so crucial that workers be protected from it.