Decades in the making, OSHA’s new silica rule will better protect millions of workers from a highly toxic, cancer-causing substance that has killed thousands while the rule slowly worked its way through the regulatory gauntlet, administration after administration. Today, in quarries, foundries, building sites, and kitchen rehab jobs across the country, workers can look forward to breathing cleaner air.
But today’s announcement is far from the end of the story. Next comes the inevitable litigation. Following their tired playbook, special interest groups will beg a court to put a hold on the rule, hoping to delay or undo it. Workers have waited long enough for this rule. It is high time industry made an investment in the future by establishing the protections this rule requires. Investing now in tools and policies to better protect workers will save hundreds of lives every year. That’s not just a number; these are real people who will not have to suffer the pain and indignity of gasping for breath simply because they went to work at a job where the hazards of silica dust were ignored because OSHA’s outdated standard required so little of their employers.
[Ed. Note: Watch this space for a more thorough review of the rule's provisions.]