AGC of America Calls New Federal Silica Standard Unobtainable

Calling the new federal silica standard “unobtainable,” as well as costly and disruptive, contractors, a construction industry coalition, the aggregates industry and others are claiming the new OSHA silica standard is a missed opportunity to improve workplace safety without adding an additional regulatory burden on employers.

"Administration officials appear to have instead opted to set a new standard that is well beyond the capabilities of current air filtration and dust removal technologies,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC of America CEO. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels announced on March 24, 2016 that OSHA would publish a final workplace exposure standard for crystalline silica that cuts the permissible exposure limit in half.

The new rule establishes two standards – one for general industry and maritime and one for the construction industry – and limits exposure to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air.

"Wishing firms could meet this new but unattainable standard will undoubtedly deliver many positive headlines for the administration, but it will be all but impossible for most construction firms to comply with this new rule. "We will continue our exhaustive review of this new regulation, consult with our members and decide on a future course of action that will best serve the health and safety of millions of construction workers across the country," stated Sandherr.

Associated General Contractors Files Suit to Block Administration's Misguided Silica Rule

The Louisiana chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America today filed a challenge to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final respirable crystalline silica rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

In doing so, the chapter joined a number of local industry partners who are also concerned about the impact of the rule on the construction industry.

“Our members are deeply committed to taking every possible step to reducing silica exposure on your worksites,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the national association’s chief executive officer.  “However, we have significant concerns about whether this new rule is technically feasible, given that the agency’s final permissible exposure limit is beyond the capacity of existing dust filtration and removal technology.”

Read the full press release here.

To see the OSHA Fact Sheet on Crystaline Silica, click here.
To see the OSHA Final Rule on Crystaline Silica, click here.
To view the OSHA Crystaline Silica Fact Sheet For Construction, click here.

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