Rulemaking and Enforcement Initiatives

OSHA’s Silica Rule

On March 25, OSHA announced a final rule to protect workers by reducing their exposure to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers.

The silica final rule rollout took place at the International Masonry Institute in Bowie, Md., and was attended by more than 200 people, including several victims of silica-related diseases. Speakers included U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels and Tom Ward, whose father died of silicosis. Later, attendees were able to watch apprentice bricklayers demonstrate cutting and drilling equipment that uses water to keep dust from getting into the air or a ventilation system to remove it from the air. To watch the announcement on March 25, click here.

The final rule contains two standards, one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both standards reduce the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica and include employer requirements to protect workers, such as by limiting worker exposure through work practices and engineering controls; training workers; limiting their access to high exposure areas and providing medical exams to highly exposed workers.

About 2.3 million men and women face exposure to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including two million construction workers who drill and cut materials such as concrete and stone, and 300,000 workers in operations such as brick manufacturing, foundries and hydraulic fracturing. OSHA estimates that when the final rule becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year.

For questions on OSHA’s silica rule and updates, please visit OSHA's silica rule webpage for factsheets on the rule.


OSHA Accident Prevention Standard for Eye and Face Protection

OSHA issued proposed revisions to its 2009 eye and face protection standards to reflect the most recent edition of the ANSI/ISEA eye and face protection standard. The preventative revisions allow employers to continue to follow the existing ANSI standards referenced or allow employers to follow the latest version of the same ANSI/ISEA standard. Employers are encouraged to use this standard for guidance to update or replace protection devices, and practices for eye and face protection. The final rule becomes effective as of April 25, 2016.

To review the OSHA’s Federal Register Notice for Eye and Face Protection Standards, click here.

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