OSHA Amends Cotton Dust Standard

Dec. 8, 2000
OSHA is calling for comments on its amendment to the cotton dust\r\nstandard, which adds an improved method of washing cotton to other procedures already exempted from portions of the rule.

OSHA called for comment today on its amendment to the cotton dust standard, which adds an improved method of washing cotton to other procedures already exempted from portions of the rule.

The action follows completion of a two-year review of the standard which validated its continued significance, specifically citing a major reduction of byssinosis among textile workers since the standard''s debut in 1978.

Byssinosis, commonly known as "brown lung" disease, is caused by cotton dust exposure.

"Approximately 12,000 textile workers suffered from brown lung disease in 1978," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "Last year, that number had been reduced to approximately 700, and we attribute that reduction to the cotton dust standard. Our review of the standard has shown that it not only has helped save lives and reduce illness, but is also cost effective for industry."

"Now, thanks to the research and recommendations by a joining partnership of industry, union and government officials, we''re able to increase the flexibility available to the cotton textile industry by partially exempting from the standard another method of washing raw cotton," Jeffress added.

That partnership, known as the "Task Force for Byssinosis Prevention," researched the batch kier method of washing cotton that eliminates the risk of byssinosis.

The task force includes OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Agriculture, the National Cotton Council, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees.

The cotton dust standard was first amended in 1985 to give a partial exemption for cotton washed in a continuous flow system.

Washing raw cotton before it is spun and woven eliminates the risk of byssinosis to workers exposed to cotton dust.

The exemption did not include the batch kier method -- in which raw cotton is repeatedly washed in a giant kettle -- since it was not shown at the time to eliminate bioactivity of the cotton dust.

Following research and testing, the joint task force showed that advances made in the batch kier method will protect workers from disease.

Based on their recommendations, OSHA said the method will now be exempted from all but recordkeeping and medical surveillance provisions of the cotton dust standard.

The standard''s revision is being made through the direct final rule approach since the revision has received universal support from labor and industry.

This approach saves regulatory resources over notice and comment rulemaking by eliminating one stage in the rulemaking process.

According to OSHA, if no significant adverse comments are received, the final rule will be effective on April 6, 2001.

However, if OSHA receives significant adversity the agency will proceed with a normal rulemaking on the matter.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!