New rule will prevent hundreds of deaths, thousands of illnesses
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a final rule to improve protections for workers exposed to respirable silica dust. The rule will curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez announced the implementation of the long-overdue final silica rule March 25.
The new rule will prevent about 600 deaths and thousands of illnesses related to silica exposure each year. Secretary Perez made the announcement in Bowie, MD, at the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Training Center.
The BAC has taken a leading role in working with community and industry partners, scientists and lawmakers to ensure adoption of the final rule.
“This is a huge step forward for millions of workers in the U.S., including Local BAC members who have suffered from silica dust exposure for generations,” BAC President Jim Boland said. “Together, our Union and the broader labor movement have and will continue to improve safety and health protections for our workers. Together, we can make workers’ lives better. And together, we will continue the fight to protect this final standard.”
BAC ADC of Eastern Missouri Director Don Brown, Bricklayers Local 1, said: “Working people should not get sick and die in return for a hard day’s work. Construction workers are exposed to dangerous levels of silica when their employers do not provide them with appropriate safety equipment. This rule will help level the playing field, and help ensure a healthy and productive workforce.”
Brown added, “Sometimes we don’t see how Washington politics impacts our work, but days like today drive home just how important it is to have a ‘Collaborator-in Chief’ in the White House—someone who knows how to get things done for working people. We thank President Obama and Labor Secretary Perez for making the safety of workers a priority.”