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ASSE Responds to OSHA Announcement of Silica Proposed Rule

Posted in on Tue, Aug 27, 2013

UPDATE:  On September 12, OSHA published the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

OSHA has announced publication of the long-awaited proposed rule to set a standard aimed at addressing workplace risks posed by silica.  As indicated in an ASSE-prepared summary of the proposed rule, OSHA proposes to lower its Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is 50 percent of the current PEL and consistent with NIOSH’s Relative Exposure Limit (REL).  ASSE issued the following response to the proposed rule on its announcement:

This statement is attributable to Kathy A. Seabrook CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM, President, American Society of Safety Engineers

“Now that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has moved forward rulemaking on a possible standard to address the occupational exposure to silica, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) looks forward to the opportunity to bring the expertise and experience of its member safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals to an open debate about the appropriate regulation of this risk.

“Our members already manage successfully the risks posed by silica in practical, cost effective ways and work with employers committed to protecting workers from those risks.  By finally moving this rulemaking forward, the entire occupational safety and health community will have the opportunity to share best practices and varied perspectives on how best to protect workers from a risk that, despite advances in protecting workers from silica risks, still kills more than 150 workers and harms the health of thousands more every year.  Our hope is that this debate and the information shared can help encourage more employers to provide better protections to their workers as this rulemaking proceeds.”

The first step in the rulemaking process for this standard was completed in 2003.  Concerned that not all stakeholders were involved in closed-door discussions at the White House on a possible rule, ASSE in 2011 urged the Obama Administration to move forward a rule so all stakeholders could be involved.

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