We have presented at length the new Silica Regulations released on March 25, 2016. Although the rule is scheduled to take effect on June 23rd, 2017 it is currently being challenged in the US Court of Appeals. The consolidated case features various challenges from both labor and employers and is currently awaiting a decision from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
Among the employers filing challenges were the American Foundry Society; the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association; and the National Association of Home Builders. From labor groups, statements were filed by the AFL-CIO and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU).
All the employers asked for judgement on OSHA’s justification to set the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for silica at 50 micrograms, and whether complying with the PEL is technologically and economically feasible. They also want judgement on OSHA’s preference for reducing silica exposure through engineering controls, such as wet cutting and indoor filter systems instead of workers using respiratory protection.
The unions focused on requirements for when employers must offer silica exposure testing to workers and the rule not including a “medical removal” provision that would provide some job and pay protection for workers who can’t be exposed to workplace silica.
Currently compliance requirements are not until June 23, 2017. However this could be moved back depending on the time it takes for the court to rule on these issues.