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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Silica Dust Rule

On December 22, a federal appeals court upheld OSHA’s new silica dust rule, rejecting a challenge filed by North America’s Building Trades Unions. The rule, which went into enforcement on September 23, 2017, reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for workers in the construction industry to about 20% of what was previously allowed.

The industry group petitioned for a review of a handful of issues, including whether the new PEL significantly reduces health risks and whether the rule is technologically and economically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing, and construction industries to implement. The court rejected all of the industry’s challenges. They also directed OSHA to review the decision to omit medical removal protections from the rule.

Predictably, worker safety organizations praised the decision while industry groups criticized it.

However, the industry groups also advised companies to comply with the rule. Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, noted that the decision shows how difficult it is to overturn federal regulations. “That is why we have long cautioned our members to take every possible step to comply with this measure instead of gambling on a long-shot legal victory,” he said.

To learn more about the silica dust rule and what you need to do to comply, view the recording of our recent webinar Silica Dust: Strategies for Compliance and Effective Control Plans.