Just a few weeks ago federal regulators passed a final rule setting forth new limitations for silica exposure in work environments. Now Congress began discussions about amending this 'final' rule.
Prolonged exposure to silica can contribute to a number of respiratory illnesses, most incurable. Most people relate silica exposure with the construction industry, but our workers comp attorneys have a post explaining silica's presence in agriculture as well--which is a significant industry here in North Carolina.
Some officials expressed concern that the new silica exposure limits will not be feasible. The limits call for reducing exposure by about half per 8-hour work shift that was previously permitted. Although the limits are not set to go into effect tomorrow or next month (employers have about a year or more, depending on their industry) to comply with the silica limits, some employers and others are concerned about the cost and logistics involved with meeting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's forthcoming standards.
Not only will the cost to comply be difficult for many employers, the ongoing cost to maintain compliance might not be attainable for some employers. As of this writing, petitions, a hearing, and public concerns have prompted discussions about amending the final rule, but no revisions have been directly addressed. Individuals and organizations have until late May to file additional petitions, so it remains to be seen if regulators will make changes.
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