Scott on Silica Rule: Most Significant Worker Health, Safety Protection in 40 Years


WASHINGTONRanking Member Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) issued the following statement after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released the final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime:

“This standard is the most significant health and safety protection issued by the Department since the adoption of the asbestos standard 40 years ago. Today, the Department has taken bold action to protect over 2 million American workers from the dangers of breathing silica dust and eventually developing fatal diseases.

“OSHA’s current permissible exposure limits for silica do not reflect more recent scientific evidence, but instead are based on obsolete research dating back more than fifty years. Since then, it has been determined that respirable crystalline silica exposure at the levels currently permitted has been found to cause lung cancer and kidney disease. Under the new rule, employers are required to limit workers’ access to high respirable dust exposure areas, provide training and respiratory protection when controls are not enough to limit exposure, provide written exposure control plans, and measure exposures in some cases. Employers would also be required to offer medical examinations to highly exposed workers.


“No worker should ever die on the job as a result of preventable workplace conditions. It is past time for an updated rule. This rule is a victory for all of the workers who will now not become sick or lose their lives from this preventable hazard.”


Fact Sheet: Workers’ Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica: Final Rule Overview