On December 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld OSHA’s 2016 silica rule, rejecting industry challenges.
OSHA published the final rule regulating workplace exposure to silica, Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica (29 CFR 1910, 1915 and 1926), in 2016. The rule is aimed at protecting over 2 million employees exposed to silica dust at work. These employees could face serious illness from the exposure, such as silicosis or tuberculosis.
The Court of Appeals decision came after several industry petitioners argued OSHA made the rule too stringent and several union petitioners argued OSHA did not make it stringent enough.
The industry groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, petitioned for review of five issues:
“We reject all of industry’s challenges,” wrote judges Merrick Garland, Karen Henderson and David Tatel.
Meanwhile, the union petitioners requested review of two parts of the rule:
“We reject the unions’ challenge to the construction standard’s 30-day trigger for medical surveillance,” wrote the judges. They added, however: “We hold that OSHA was arbitrary and capricious in declining to require MRP for some period when a medical professional recommends permanent removal, when a medical professional recommends temporary removal to alleviate COPD symptoms, and when a medical professional recommends temporary removal pending a specialist’s determination.”
The judges concluded that OSHA “failed to adequately explain its decision to omit medical removal protections from the rule and remand [back to OSHA] for further consideration of the issue.”To find out more about this topic, click here.