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Appeals Court Upholds OSHA's Silica Regulations
Court Rejected All Industry Appeals


After being enacted in 2016, OSHA's updated silica regulations have been widely challenged by businesses. The new rule limits exposure to crystalline silica based on size of the workspace and length of time spent working with materials producing silica dust.

A U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C ruled to uphold OSHA's regulations placed on workers exposure to silica, striking down challenges raised by the industry.

OSHA created the Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard for Construction (RCSSC) to regulate and limit workers' exposure for their protection. OSHA estimates it will protect over two million workers annually and limit cases of silicosis and lung disease.

After several delays, it went into effect Sept. 2017 and was immediately contested.

Industry and business challengers, including the U.S Chamber of Commerce, believed the rule was too strict while unions believed it too lenient to adequately protect workers.

Five challenges were raised, asking the court to review if the limitation on silica exposure was technologically and economically feasible or substantially supported by medical evidence.

The court struck down all of the challenges. However, they concluded OSHA's omission of medical removal protections was inconsistent and asked for further review.

Compliance with the regulations will include investing in new equipment and increasing labor. Tasks, which required one worker, may now require more if there is exposure to silica dust with little or no containment.

"This is a huge win for millions of workers in construction, foundries, mining, shipbuilding and many other industries," said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. "Low-wage workers and those in the informal sector can now be assured of safer working conditions."

OSHA's fact sheet on silica can be found on their website:

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August 25, 2019, 1:22 am PDT

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