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Extension sought in comment period on OSHA rules

Pennsylvania construction workers and other laborers have been waiting for almost forty years for OSHA to change their rules that govern how much respirable silica employees may be exposed to in the course of the work. The proposal is nearly complete and will be published soon after a public commentary period is completed and suggestions taken into account. Large numbers of national business groups, ranging from the Construction Industry Safety Coalition to the National Association of Manufacturers, have submitted requests for an extension of the comment period so that they can review the rules and the associated literature. The current deadline for comment is Dec. 11th.

OSHA wants to decrease the prevalence of workplace illness in the construction industry by sharply limiting how much silica workers breath in. To that end they have assembled vast amounts of data, formulating numerous technological feasibility studies and economic analyses. Curiously, it is the volume of their research and literature itself that is given as the reason for the delay.

The normal comment period would be 90 days, but these business groups claim that there is so much to read in the proposal that most of their time will be spent simply reviewing the material. They also request that OSHA set up different hearings for construction agencies and other industries. The budget impasse is also cited as a reason for extension, as it is uncertain when OSHA will be able to schedule the rules implementation.

There are large numbers of Pennsylvanian workers who encounter breathable silica every day in their workplace. These rule changes will help to finally bring clean air to many unhealthy work sites, as well as give the possibility of redress to those who worked under these conditions. An attorney who works in the workers' compensation affairs may be able to help those who have been injured by particulate inhalation at their place of work.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, "Groups Seek Comment Extension on Silica Proposed Rule", October 07, 2013

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