Silica exposure due to an unsafe work practice. Photo by NIOSH/John Rekus.
Photo by NIOSH/John Rekus

OSHA’s effort to reduce the permissible exposure limits for silica began a new phase this week, with an intensive three week period of public hearings that wrap up on Friday, April 4.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels said his agency’s rulemaking is an open process, “and the input we receive will help us ensure that a final rule adequately protects workers, is feasible for employers, and is based on the best available evidence."

OSHA estimates that the proposed rule will save nearly 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease -- per year. Inhalation of silica is also implicated in lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease.

OSHA currently enforces 40-year-old permissible exposure limits (PELs) for crystalline silica in general industry, construction and shipyards that it says are outdated, inconsistent between industries, and do not adequately protect worker health.

Who is participating?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chemistry Council opened the first hearing, which was yesterday. Here are the rest of the presenters, as well as the dates they'll be presenting:

Thursday March 20, 2014 – Peer Reviewers in Attendance

Friday, March 21, 2014


Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Kyle Steenland, Ph.D.(OSHA Expert Witness)
  • The Construction Industry Safety Coalition

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

  • Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO
  • National Association of Manufacturers
  • Change to Win

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

  • International Union, UAW
  • American Chemistry Council Crystalline Silica Panel

Thursday, March 27, 2014

  • National Asphalt Pavement Association
  • American Road and Transportation Builders Association
  • National Utility Contractors Association
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Industrial Minerals Association – North America
  • National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA)
  • International Union of Operating Engineers
  • Fe y Justicia (Houston, Texas)
  • New Labor (New Jersey)

Friday, March 28, 2014

  • United Steelworkers
  • American Foundry Society
  • Non-Ferrous Founders' Society
  • American Iron and Steel Institute
  • Glass Packaging Institute
  • Verallia/Saint-Gobain Containers
  • Monday, March 31, 2014
  • Mason Contractors Association of America
  • National Concrete Masonry Association
  • Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association
  • Miller and Long Company
  • iQ Power Tools
  • International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • National Council for Occupational Safety and Health/Equality State Policy Center/LaborSafe
  • Wisconsin Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
  • American Industrial Hygiene Association – Laboratory Accreditation Programs, LLC
  • AIHA Proficiency Analytical Testing Programs
  • The Center for Effective Government
  • Brick Industry Association

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Roofing Contractors Association
  • Tile Roofing Institute
  • Tile Council of North America
  • Arch Masonry, Inc.
  • Sorptive Minerals Institute

Thursday, April 3, 2014

  • Public Citizen
  • Center for Progressive Reform
  • National Consumers League
  • Collegium Ramazzini
  • HalenHardy, LLC
  • American Composite Manufacturers Association
  • North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
  • Johns Manville
  • The Fertilizer Institute
  • National Automobile Dealers Association
  • Novetas Solutions

Friday, April 4, 2014

  • American Petroleum Institute
  • Association of Energy Service Companies
  • SandBox Logistics
  • Allamakee County Protectors
  • Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America
  • Portland Cement Association
  • National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
  • Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute
  • Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute

Members of the public may attend to listen to testimony from OSHA and other hearing participants.

To view the hearing schedule and procedures, visit

To view the proposed rule, visit the Federal Register.

Additional information, including the public hearings schedule and hearing procedures, as well as FAQs, fact sheets, is available at