OSHA’s Silica Exposure Standard Upheld on Most Grounds

OSHA's Silica Exposure Standard

On Friday, December 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on challenges to OSHA’s new silica exposure standard, rejecting all challenges by industry and one of the challenges by labor unions, but finding that OSHA was arbitrary and capricious in failing to offer good reasons for not including “medical removal protection” allowing doctors to recommend removal of workers at risk from silica exposure. North America’s Building Trades Unions v. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, case #16-1105, D.C. Cir. 12/22/2017. In its ruling, the D.C. Circuit also:

  • Upheld the Silica Exposure Standard’s reduced Permissible Exposure Limit (“PEL”) of 50 micrograms/cubic meter;
  • Held that it is feasible for industry to comply with the new PEL;
  • Rejected industry’s challenge to the rule-making procedure followed by OSHA; and
  • Rejected the unions’ attempt to require medical screening if a worker wears a respirator for only one day, vs. the 30 days provided in the rule.

For more information on the D.C. Circuit’s decision or OSHA’s new silica rule — currently in force for the construction industry, with a deadline of compliance by general industry of next summer — contact Steve O’Day.

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