By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft
Happy anniversary! Besides being Valentine’s Day, today is also the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) submission of a draft proposed rule to reduce exposure to life-threatening silica dust to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The review was supposed to take 90 days — but two years later, the draft rule is still there, languishing in regulatory limbo while workers continue to be exposed to the deadly dust.
Exposure to silica, one of the oldest known workplace dangers, can result in lung cancer and silicosis. Breathing in the tiny bits of silica, basically sand, is something nearly 2 million workers face everyday on jobs ranging from construction to manufacturing.
The legal limit on how much silica dust workers can inhale was set decades ago but in decades since science has shown that the limit needs to be cut in half. It’s time to move the proposed rule out of OMB and make it law. Too many lives are at risk to keep sitting on this life-saving rule.