OSHA Delays Obama Silica Safety Standard for Construction Industry

April 7, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry.

The rule, on which OSHA first sought comment in 1974, was finalized in March 2016 by the Obama Administration and scheduled to go into effect June 23, 2017. Enforcement will now be postponed until Sept. 23, 2017.

OSHA said it has determined that “additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard.”

The rule is meant to protect workers against occupational exposure to crystalline silica, a carcinogenic dust often found in construction, foundries and fracking. The rule lowers the exposure limit for silica dust for the first time since 1971 and requires employers to monitor silica in the workplace and take steps to reduce exposure.

Industry groups have sued to stop the rule. They maintain that limitations in measuring silica levels make it impossible for them to comply with the new standards.

Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee, has been approved by a Senate committee but not yet by the full senate.

The silica standard is one of several Labor Department rules Republicans and the Trump Administration have targeted for repeal. Others include a fiduciary standard for retirement brokers and a rule extending overtime pay to more workers.

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