Construction groups file petition to block OSHA silica rule

Dive Brief:

  • Eight construction industry groups have filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit requesting a review of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's new silica rule, the Associated Builders and Contractors said in a press release.
  • The ABC said industry representatives brought up many of their concerns during OSHA’s rule-making process, specifically the attainability of the new permissible exposure limit (PEL) on both technical and economic grounds.
  • The groups said they fear OSHA did not consider all the evidence prior to making its final ruling and that the decision to move forward with the new silica regulation constitutes a "fundamental misunderstanding of the real world of construction."

Dive Insight:

Filing the petition are the Mississippi Road Builders’ Association, the American Subcontractors Association of Texas, the Pelican Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, the Louisiana Associated General Contractors, the Associated Masonry Contractors of Texas, the Distribution Contractors Association, the Mechanical Contractors Associations of Texas and the Texas Association of Builders. The ABC reported that those groups will be joined by their national affiliated organizations, such as the ABC, the National Association of Home Builders and the Associated General Contractors of America.  

The new OSHA rule mandates that workers be exposed to no more than 50 micrograms per cubic foot of air for more than an average of eight hours and increases employee recordkeeping, monitoring and "medical surveillance" requirements.

The ABC and other trade associations have been at the forefront of opposition to the bill, with the position that the new requirements will cost the industry almost $5 billion a year and are technically unachievable. The groups estimated that the rule could lead to a reduction of 33,000 industry-wide full-time positions. 

In favor of the rule, however, are some building trade unions. After the rule’s finalization was announced, North America's Building Trades Union said, "North America's Building Trades Unions is pleased OSHA has issued the final silica standard ... Put simply, the OSHA silica standard will protect construction workers from getting sick or dying due to silica dust exposure."

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Filed Under: Legal/Regulation