OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Rule: Compliance Clock Ticks While Legal Challenges Mount

18 April 2016 Manufacturing Industry Advisor Blog

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its final rule on “Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica” (the “Silica Rule”) on March 25, 2016, and as expected numerous manufacturing industry trade groups and others have filed legal challenges to the rule’s validity. With the outcome of these challenges uncertain, manufacturers and other affected industries are currently subject to the compliance deadlines established in the Silica Rule—June 23, 2017 for the construction industry and June 23, 2018 for general industry and maritime. Given the potential costs of compliance and penalties for noncompliance, manufacturers and other regulated industries should consider starting their compliance planning process now, while also following the progress of legal challenges to the Silica Rule to help avoid unnecessary cost in the event it is overturned.

Summary

In general, the Silica Rule both lowers the acceptable levels for employee exposure to respirable crystalline silica and requires employers to implement proactive measures to reduce such exposure. Respirable crystalline silica, or “silica dust,” is a potential issue for manufacturers and numerous other industries, as OSHA notes that exposure to crystalline silica occurs in “common workplace operations involving cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, brick, block, rock, and stone products . . . and operations using sand products (such as in glass manufacturing, foundries, sand blasting, and hydraulic fracturing).” Additional detail regarding the Silica Rule’s requirements is available here, and in general there is concern among industry members that these requirements impose significant costs on regulated entities that OSHA did not properly consider and which will have a negative impact on the manufacturing, construction, and other affected industries (and particularly small- to medium-sized entities in those industries).

What’s Next

As of this writing there were at least seven different challenges filed in six different U.S. federal courts of appeals across the country, all of which OSHA is seeking to consolidate into a single case. Regardless of whether the cases are consolidated, it is possible the challengers will request that the Silica Rule be stayed while the legal proceedings run their course. For that reason, manufacturers and other regulated entities should follow these proceedings closely, as their outcome may impact compliance planning and related business considerations.

Stay tuned to the Manufacturing Industry Advisor for future updates regarding the fate of OSHA’s Silica Rule.

This blog is made available by Foley & Lardner LLP (“Foley” or “the Firm”) for informational purposes only. It is not meant to convey the Firm’s legal position on behalf of any client, nor is it intended to convey specific legal advice. Any opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Foley & Lardner LLP, its partners, or its clients. Accordingly, do not act upon this information without seeking counsel from a licensed attorney. This blog is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Communicating with Foley through this website by email, blog post, or otherwise, does not create an attorney-client relationship for any legal matter. Therefore, any communication or material you transmit to Foley through this blog, whether by email, blog post or any other manner, will not be treated as confidential or proprietary. The information on this blog is published “AS IS” and is not guaranteed to be complete, accurate, and or up-to-date. Foley makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation or content of the site. Foley expressly disclaims all other guarantees, warranties, conditions and representations of any kind, either express or implied, whether arising under any statute, law, commercial use or otherwise, including implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Foley or any of its partners, officers, employees, agents or affiliates be liable, directly or indirectly, under any theory of law (contract, tort, negligence or otherwise), to you or anyone else, for any claims, losses or damages, direct, indirect special, incidental, punitive or consequential, resulting from or occasioned by the creation, use of or reliance on this site (including information and other content) or any third party websites or the information, resources or material accessed through any such websites. In some jurisdictions, the contents of this blog may be considered Attorney Advertising. If applicable, please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Photographs are for dramatization purposes only and may include models. Likenesses do not necessarily imply current client, partnership or employee status.

Related Services