OSHA’s Proposed Rule Against Toxic Silica Dust
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a new safety regulation that would drastically reduce the exposure limit for airborne crystalline silica in all industries. The toxic dust has been linked to silicosis, an incurable and often fatal lung disease that threatens nearly 2.2 million workers in the U.S.
What is Silica?
Silica is a mineral found in sand, rock, and other ores, such as quartz, which are commonly used in a wide range of industrial operations.
Silica can become a fine, airborne dust as a result of cutting, grinding, or abrasive blasting of objects that contain the mineral. Exposure to respirable silica most often occurs in construction, mining, manufacturing, and maritime work.
The Dangers of Crystalline Silica
When silica dust enters the lungs it causes the formation of scar tissue and greatly reduces the lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen, which significantly contributes to the risk of silicosis, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and renal disease, among other illnesses. Workers that are regularly exposed to airborne crystalline silica can develop serious health consequences over a period of only a few months to several years.
The proposed rule would reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for crystalline silica to 50 micrograms over an 8-hour work day for workers. In addition, the proposed rule would include the following provisions:
- Limiting workers’ access to areas of high silica exposure,
- Providing medical exams to workers with high levels of exposure, and
- Training for workers about silica dangers and how to reduce exposure.
OSHA has invited the public to participate in developing the final rule by submitting comments and attending public hearings. For more information, please visit: https://www.osha.gov/silica/index.html
Contact an Experienced Toxic Tort Lawyer
If you believe you have suffered an injury as a result of exposure to toxic silica or other hazardous materials, you may be entitled to obtain significant compensation. Contact the Waco toxic tort attorneys at Williams & Brown LLP to learn about your legal rights and potential options. Schedule a free consultation by calling (888) 741-6200.
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