Health and Safety

Dangers of Silica Dust

April 14, 2017 
By Stephanie West

New York, NY –  “The federal safety standard limiting worker exposure to silica dust has been decades in the making,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

“It is backed by solid scientific evidence and the experience of workers who have suffered cancer, silicosis and other life-threatening diseases. There is no reason for delaying this rule, which will save more 600 lives each year.”

Some 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust in their workplaces, including two million construction workers and 300,000 in general industry operations such as manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing.  Including reduced illnesses, fatalities, a reduction in lost time at work, increased productivity and other factors, OSHA estimates the new silica standard will yield a net annual benefit of $7.7 billion to the U.S. economy.

“With construction season underway, three months of delay means that millions of workers will be exposed to hazardous silica dust that will make them sick and take their lives,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH. “Tools to wet down silica dust and vacuum it up are practical, affordable and readily available. The new standard was announced more than a year ago and employers are aware of their responsibilities to limit worker exposure. To protect workers, the time to act is now.”

A new federal safety standard reducing permissible exposure to silica dust was announced in March 2016. Yesterday, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration that enforcement of the new standard in the construction industry will be delayed from June 23, 2017 to September 23, 2017.

April 13, 2017

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