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AIHA: It’s Time to Move Forward on the Silica Standard

In a Nov. 10 letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jacob J. Lew and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) urged OMB to finish its work on OSHA’s proposed crystalline silica standard, calling the extended review of the rule "an unacceptable attempt to 'short circuit' the existing process and may make it unusually vulnerable to political influence."

OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) recently extended the Executive Order 12866 review of OSHA’s proposed crystalline silica standard. AIHA, however, encouraged OIRA to complete its work without additional delay so OSHA may begin the public rulemaking process on a comprehensive standard and issue the rule as quickly as possible.

"The AIHA membership recognizes and supports the role of OIRA in reviewing proposed regulations. However, our members have expressed concern that industry groups may be using this review process to delay rulemaking and lobby OMB to pre-determine key issues involved with OSHA's proposed rule, such as exempting the construction industry from this regulation," AIHA President Elizabeth L. Pullen, CIH wrote in the letter. “We strongly oppose these efforts.”

AIHA asked OMB to release the rule for publication in the Federal Register so the public, including industry groups and all others with interest in silica, can comment on and debate it in an open public forum. According to AIHA, the publication of OSHA's proposed rule provides an important starting point for additional discussion and input by industry, labor and the safety and health community that typically is used to develop a final rule.

"In summary, we encourage OMB to release the rule, defer to OSHA's scientific judgment as much as possible, and publicly reassure stakeholders that they will have plenty of opportunity for comment and input into the development of a final rule on silica," Pullen concluded.

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