Target: Dr. David Michaels, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Labor
Goal: Applaud the agency’s proposed rulings to limit exposure to carcinogenic crystalline silica, or silica dust.
Exposure to crystalline silica claims up to 700 lives a year according to a recent report by the New York Times. Prolonged inhalation of silica dust, extremely fine particles generated from work with mortar, brick, stone, or concrete, can cause silicosis, an “irreversible,” in some cases fatal lung disease as well as lung cancer. In the face of business leaders lobbying against the measure, OSHA responded to labor leaders’ demand for strengthened exposure limits with a proposal estimated to reduce silicosis deaths by up to 1,600 a year.
Affecting up to 534,000 businesses, the majority of them in construction, the ruling would mandate businesses’ periodic measuring of silica and provision of medical testing to workers every 3 years. For workers exposed to “permissible limits” for 30 days or more, these tests would include chest X-rays and lung function tests. Suggested ways for companies to comply with the new regulations include using vacuums or water hoses with saws that product the dust and placing heavy duty grinding apparatuses in airtight spaces with a vacuum to take in the particles.
The ruling2 years in the making is welcomed by public health and labor officials alike, who note that the regulations to this well-known risk were passed 40 years ago and fail to protect the over 2 million workers exposed to crystalline silica.
By signing the petition below, you can thank OSHA for taking active measures to protect workers from a serious health hazard.
Dear Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels,
I would like to applaud you and your agency for your proposed limits on carcinogenic silicon dust exposure. Responding to labor officials’ call for strengthened exposure limits, you have persisted in protecting workers from this health hazard despite opposition from business leaders. Your projected prevention of up to 1,600 deaths from silicosis, the severe and in some cases fatal lung disease, show you know what is truly at stake with this health hazard: the health and wellbeing of workers.
As both labor and public health officials welcome the proposed ruling, I commend you in turn for holding industry accountable for taking care of workers. You recognized that the regulation set 40 years ago fails to protect the over 2 million workers exposed to the dust and have committed to preventing further exposure. Your plans to cut exposure levels and provide medical testing for workers every 3 years mark a leadership and a commitment to worker health for which I am grateful.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Andres Rodriguez via 123rf.com