Silica dust photo courtesy of Creative Commons License
Silica dust photo courtesy of Creative Commons License

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration released their final ruling on silica dust exposure. The new ruling will limit exposure of silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter per eight-hour work shift from the original 250 micrograms of allowed silica exposure.

The controversial ruling focuses on how the risk that construction workers face when exposed to high levels of crystalline silica dust that can lead to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.

The Department of Labor says the new ruling will save roughly 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 cases of silicosis. The final rule will take effect 90 days after publication--expected Friday, March 25--in the Federal Register. Employers have until June 23, 2017, to comply with the new requirements if they are covered by the construction standard and will have until June 23, 2018, if they are covered by the general industry or maritime standard.

Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez in a press release said that the new ruling will ensure that workers won’t have to risk their health to be on the job.

Industry associations are critical of the new ruling saying it “contains some of the same problematic provisions” that they had urged the Department of Labor to not include.

To learn more about the details of the new ruling and how industry leaders are responding, click below.

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