Seven construction groups across the country have made a plan to join eight state affiliates in petitioning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit calling on a review of OSHA’s final silica exposure rule. Lead by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors of America, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the groups have raised concerned on with regard to OSHA’s rulemaking process, presenting substantial evidence that a 50-micogram permissible exposure limit will be technologically and economically infeasible. This same sentiment was shared by Ed Bradey from the National Association of Home Builders during a House congressional testimony.

The ARBTA has pointed out four of the problems it has with the new OSHA silica exposure, as Concrete Products reports:

  • Outdated health data. In setting the new standard, OSHA relied on studies from as early as the 1930s. More recent data clearly shows silica exposure has been dramatically reduced under the existing standard. According to the Center for Disease Control, deaths due to silicosis have declined 93 percent over the past 39 years.
  • Faulty economic data. OSHA estimates the rule will cost the construction industry $659 million annually. An ARTBA-backed, independent economic analysis by Environomics, Inc., shows the new standard will cost the construction industry in excess of $2 billion per year.
  • Unintended consequences. The lower PEL may be doing more harm than good by requiring workers to wear respirators in hot environments, potentially exposing them to otherwise avoidable heat stroke and stress.
  • Unworkable air sampling requirements. The rule calls for time-consuming sampling and testing procedures that will yield virtually meaningless results: By the time exposure levels are known, the “workplace” location and conditions tested will have moved and/or changed.

This follows a separate petition that was filed earlier this month by the National Stone, Sand, & Gravel Association and the Georgie Construction Aggregates Association for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Objective evidence demonstrates that many commercial laboratories processing workplace air samples do not consistently provide analytical accuracy at the 50-microgram limit, NSSGA President Michael Johnson notes, adding: “There would be significantly more testing required that would result in confusing, inconsistent and unreliable data. This is a real problem that neither OSHA nor the labs have effectively resolved. NSSGA believes that the aggregates industry’s most valuable resource is the more than 100,000 people who work in our industry. Our members are committed to their health and welfare. We are confident that an objective analysis of our challenge will demonstrate that OSHA is on the wrong track.”
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