After a two-year review of the standard, first issued in 1978, OSHA is calling for comments on a new amendment that adds an improved method of washing cotton to other procedures already exempted from portions of the rule.

Research and testing has shown that advances in the batch kier method — in which raw cotton is repeatedly washed in a giant kettle — protect workers from byssinosis, or “brown lung disease”, caused by cotton dust exposure, according to OSHA. Based on recommendations by a joint partnership of industry, unions and government, the method will now be exempted from all but recordkeeping and medical surveillance provisions of the cotton dust standard.

The standard’s revision is being made through the direct final rule approach since the change has received broad support from labor and industry. If no significant opposing comments are received, the final rule will take effect on April 6, 2001.