Photo by John Rekus/NIOSH
silicosis exposure

The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) is calling on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finish its review of OSHA's proposed silica standard so that the rule can be issued without further delay.

"NACOSH is deeply distressed that the proposed silica standard has now been held by OMB for review for more than 10 months, far longer than the 4.5 month review period provided for in Executive Order 12866," said the committee in a statement released after its December meeting. "The silica rule delay is extraordinary and without explanation, and there is no indication as to when the review will be concluded.
Further, it has been 14 years since OSHA initiated the silica rulemaking, and eight years since the small business panel completed its review of the draft silica rule under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act [SBREFA], and a proposed rule has yet to be issued."

NACOSH is charged with advising the secretaries of Labor and of Health and Human Services about matters relating to the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Following its December meeting in Washington, D.C. the group urged the Secretary of Labor and OSHA to pressure the OMB to complete the review in order to allow the public hearings and comment period to get underway.

"NACOSH strongly supports OSHA's efforts to update its standard on occupational exposure to silica. The current standard is many decades old and is insufficient to protect workers from this serious occupational health hazard."

The silica standard wasn't the only item on the NACOSH agenda. Other recommendations agreed upon during the meeting including OSHA keeping its Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) iniative as its highest priority and -- with its partners --  holding an I2P2 symposium.

"NACOSH continues to be concerned and disappointed that the June/July 2011 timeline for initiation of the SBREFA process set forth by OSHA for the Injury Illness Prevention Program proposed
rule at the June 2011 NACOSH meeting has not been met, and that there has been no apparent progress on this rule."

The proposed national symposium would be supported and funded by OSHA, NIOSH and other appropriate parties and would present best practices of small, medium and large workplaces on I2P2 programs. NACOSH recommended that the two agencies convene a plannign group to develop a schedule, work plan, target audience and budget for the symposium, and also explore the idea of regional conferences and other methods to increase participation from the broader community of health and safety professionals.

Additionally, NACOSH affirmed its support for OSHA's efforts to transition From Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) to North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) .

"Now that the comment period for the proposed rule has closed, NACOSH encourages OSHA to complete a final rule in 2012 so that changes can become effective for reporting in 2013."