December 21, 2015

Silica rule to OMB by Christmas

Brian Mahoney and Marianne LeVine labor and employment reporters, POLITICO

SILICA RULE TO OMB BY CHRISTMAS: The Labor Department plans to send its long-awaited final silica rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget next week, a senior administration official told POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine. The official said the agency has not settled on an exact date. The rule, which is one of the Labor Department's top priorities, would lower drastically workers' exposure to crystalline silica, which is associated with lung cancer, silicosis, and other diseases. When OSHA proposed the rule in September 2013 it reduced to 50 micrograms per cubic meter the permissible exposure over an eight-hour time period. The current standard for the construction industry is 250 micrograms per cubic meter, while the standard for general industry is 100 micrograms per cubic meter.

The Labor Department sent an earlier iteration of the rule to OMB in February 2011. It sat there two and a half years, prompting criticism from labor unions and health advocates. The rule has prompted fierce opposition from the construction industry, which says OSHA has underestimated (at an annual $637-658 million) the implementation cost. According to the White House fall regulatory agenda, the final rule is expected to be released in February 2016, though that may slip to March.

Read this and other labor and employment policy updates here.

Posted In: Health and Safety

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