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Job Creators Fight Back Against Burdensome Silica Regulations

| Tort Reform & Legal Climate

Last week, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) and the Georgia Construction Aggregates Association (GCAA) filed a joint petition in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requesting review of a proposal by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) that would make it more difficult for U.S. industry to comply with existing silica exposure rules. OSHA’s proposed rule change would drive up costly burdens on domestic job creators by reducing acceptable silica exposure limits by half (from 100 to 50 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight-hour work shift), even as the rate of silica-related illnesses in the U.S. has plummeted since the 1970’s.

Exposure to this common mineral can indeed pose human health risks at exceedingly high levels. But over the past several decades studies have demonstrated that compliance with current regulations has been effective at maintaining safe silica exposure levels for workers in U.S. industries. “The evidence has demonstrated that there is no additional health benefit to further reducing current exposure limits,” stated NSSGA president and CEO Michael W. Johnson. “OSHA’s rule is simply unnecessary as compliance with the existing standard fully protects workers. OSHA’s justification for this stricter regulation is not based on sound science.”

The North Carolina Chamber believes that competitive regulatory and tort systems should be able to move at the pace of business while also effectively safeguarding the health of workers. OSHA’s excessive proposal – which will take effect June 23 without further action by the court – is just the latest in a series of overreaching moves by federal regulatory agencies that seek to add more red tape to an already burdensome federal system and harm the ability of U.S. companies to compete for the best jobs in a global economy. As we continue to fight for commonsense silica laws in North Carolina, we will keep you updated on the fight being waged against excessive silica proposals at the national level.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber