Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, is encouraging small business owners to comment on OSHA’s proposed rulemaking for respirable crystalline silica. The notice of proposed rulemaking has been published in the Federal Register, and the public will have until Dec. 11 to submit written comments on the proposed rule.
“The effects of inhaling crystalline silica particles could present health risks for workers, therefore all stakeholders should consider this safety rule very carefully,” said Graves.
Crystalline silica is a natural component of soil, sand, granite and other materials. When workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects that contain crystalline silica, dust is generated that can be inhaled that puts workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer and other diseases.
Indicating concern for the burden new regulations could place on small business owners, the congressman added, “Because this rule could create new standards and requirements for small businesses in the construction, manufacturing, foundry, hydraulic fracturing and many other industries, significant input from the small business community will help OSHA develop a regulation that both increases worker protection and safety and is cost-effective and feasible.”
The proposed rule creates a new uniform permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica and requires employers to install engineering controls where appropriate and to provide employees with equipment, respirators, training, exposure monitoring, medical surveillance and other protective measures.
OSHA estimates that 470,000 small businesses or government entities will be affected by the rule, and that the average compliance costs for small businesses will vary greatly by industry and that the total cost of the rule will be $637 million annually.
The Small Biz Reg Watch initiative www.smallbusiness.house.gov/RegWatch regularly highlights new agency proposed rules that may have a significant effect on small businesses. The committee also communicates with small businesses via email and social media when new comment periods begin for select proposed rules that have a significant impact on a wide array of small businesses.
Public hearings on the proposed silica rule are scheduled to begin on March 4, 2014 at the Department of Labor’s Frances Perkins Building in Washington, DC. Members of the public who wish to participate in public hearings must submit a notice of intention to appear by Nov. 12.