Scott, Adams Call on Labor Secretary to Protect Workers from Deadly Silica Exposure

“Absent timely action, OSHA will be failing these stone finishing workers and failing its mission.”

WASHINGTON – Today, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chair Alma Adams (NC-12) sent a letter to Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to strengthen monitoring and protections for engineered stone fabrication workers at high risk of silicosis and other silica-related diseases.

The letter comes one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report describing eighteen cases of silicosis, including two fatalities, across four states in workers who manufacture engineered stone countertops, which can contain more than 90 percent crystalline silica. Silicosis is a deadly, irreversible lung disease that results from overexposure to silica dust.

“Studies from other countries show a larger percentage of stone fabrication workers are contracting silicosis, which suggests that the cases reported by CDC may just be the tip of the iceberg among the 8,694 establishments and 96,366 employees in the stone fabrication industry in the United States,” the Chairs wrote. “It is OSHA’s responsibility to assure the safety and health of American workers.”

The chairs also note that despite OSHA issuing a new silica standard in 2016, the Trump administration’s repeal of the National Emphasis Program (NEP) on silica in 2017 is making it more difficult for OSHA to conduct workplace inspections without a worker complaint, injury, or referral.

“We are calling on OSHA to issue, without delay, a new NEP that focuses on engineered stone fabrication establishments.   We also call upon OSHA to work with the CDC and state health departments to standardize and improve public health surveillance for silicosis and other silica-related disease,” the Chairs wrote. “Absent timely action, OSHA will be failing these stone finishing workers and failing in its mission.”

The full text of the letter here.  


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