April 1, 2014
By Alan Schulkin
Washington, D.C. – USW Officials Testified in OSHA hearings Friday March 28th on proposed standard for workplace exposure to crystalline silica. Representatives of the United Steelworkers (USW) who are job safety specialists presented testimony at public hearings being held by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in support of a OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure.
The two USW panels included workers from facilities where job exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs daily. USW members are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and shipyards. The hearings took place in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the USDOL (200 Constitution Ave., NW). The USW members testifying were led by Mike Wright, Director of the USW Health, Safety & Environment Dept. in Pittsburgh, PA.
Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases. The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure levels in half; require exposure monitoring; medical exams for workers and implementation of dust control methods. The updated standard would protect more than two million workers exposed to deadly silica dust.