OSHA’s Silica Rule to Stay Following Court Challenge

Wash, DC – A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has rejected all five objections raised by industry groups, including a Chamber of Commerce, to OSHA’s 2016 Silica Rule.

More than 2 million workers in the US are exposed to some level of silica.

According to court documents, “A collection of industry petitioners believes OSHA impermissibly made the rule too stringent and several union petitioners believe OSHA improperly failed to make the rule stringent enough.”

The industry groups petitioned for review of five issues:

  1. Whether substantial evidence supports OSHA’s finding that limiting workers’ silica exposure to the level set by the rule reduces a significant risk of material health impairment;
  2. Whether substantial evidence supports OSHA’s finding that the rule is technologically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing and construction industries;
  3. Whether substantial evidence supports OSHA’s finding that the rule is economically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing and construction industries;
  4. Whether OSHA violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in promulgating the rule; and
  5. Whether substantial evidence supports two ancillary provisions of the rule; one that allows workers who undergo medical examinations to keep the results confidential from their employers and one that prohibits employers from using dry cleaning methods unless doing so is infeasible.

The court added, however, that OSHA “failed to adequately explain its decision to omit medical removal protections from the rule and remand [back to OSHA] for further consideration of the issue.”