OSHAAaron Trippler called it: OSHA is extending the public comment period for for its proposed silica standard.

The Government Affairs Director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) had said that even before the government shutdown shortened the comment period, some stakeholders felt that 90 days was too short a time, given the complexity of the proposal.

Trippler accurately predicted that a number of stakeholders would request an extension of the comment deadline as well as one for the hearings scheduled for March 2014.

Jan. 27 deadline

Those requests did find their way to OSHA, which has decided that the comment period for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica should have an additional 47 days, with a new deadline of Jan. 27, 2014. The change will allow stakeholders additional time to review and comment on the proposed rule and supporting analyses.

The agency is also extending the deadline to submit notices of intention to appear at its informal public hearings by an additional 30 days, from Nov. 12, 2013, to Dec. 12, 2013. Public hearings are scheduled to begin on March 18, 2014. The duration of the hearings will be determined by the number of parties who request to appear. The hearings are expected to continue for several weeks.

The notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 12, 2013. The proposed rule was made available to the public on OSHA's website Aug. 23, 2013.

OSHA hopes to hear from...

"We strongly encourage the public to assist in the process of developing a final rule by submitting written comments and participating in public hearings," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "We especially hope to hear from employers, workers and public health professionals who have experience in successfully protecting workers from silica-related diseases. We are extending the comment period to ensure we hear from all stakeholders who wish to participate."

The extended comment period and public hearings will be followed with a post-hearing comment period. Members of the public who filed a timely written notice of intention to appear will be able to submit post-hearing comments to the docket.

Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets and procedures for submitting written comments and participating in public hearings, is available at www.osha.gov/silica/. Members of the public may comment on the proposal by visiting www.regulations.gov.