OSHA's Silica Rule Upheld by DC Circuit Court
On Dec. 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld OSHA's controversial occupational exposure to crystalline silica rule, rejecting all industry challenges to the rule. Ultimately, the court's decision means that the rule will remain in effect as written. That is why AGC has long cautioned our members to take the steps necessary to comply with the rule—utilizing AGC's silica compliance educational resources—instead of anticipating a legal victory.
The construction industry challenges to the rule primarily focused on whether it is technologically and economically feasible, while also raising concerns regarding certain aspects of the medical surveillance requirements and the prohibition of dry sweeping during cleanup operations. The decision underscores just how difficult it is to overturn federal regulations, even one as deeply flawed as this. AGC's intention has always been to find a way to continue reducing exposure to, and illness from, silica. While we never disagreed with federal officials' motives, we have long felt that this rule would do little to improve workplace health and safety and that better approaches exist.
Moving forward, AGC will continue to work closely with federal officials to both help ensure the undertaking of reasonable enforcement efforts and to help improve and expand upon Table 1, which lists “safe harbor” guidelines for compliance regarding 18 silica generating construction tasks. We will also maintain efforts to provide AGC members with resources and support to comply. In particular, we will continue working to stimulate the development of new technology that will enable firms to comply with standards that exceed current technological capacity.
For more information, contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President, Government Relations
Associated General Contractors of America