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OSHA's New Silica Standard


By Thomas Enger, MS, CSP, CHMM, Clemco Industries, Corp.

Presented at SSPC 2017; Session: Environmental, Health, and Safety Regulations; Session chair: Stan Liang

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued its new Silica ruling on June 23, 2015 in which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements. The Construction Industry has until June 23, 2016, while Maritime and General Industry has until June 23, 2017. OSHA estimates that the rule will save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis each year. The Final Rule is projected to provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion, annually. However those oppose to this new regulation believe it is not only technologically and economically infeasible, but also unnecessary. Opponents point to the Center of Disease Control statistic which states silica related deaths have dropped by 93 percent from 1968 to 2007. They also believe OSHA’s estimate for how much the new rule would cost the industry was very far from reality. While OSHA expects the program to cost $511 million for companies to comply, opponents believe the total costs to be almost $5 Billion.

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