About 1.7 million workers in the United States each year are exposed to silica dust and run the risk of developing silicosis, lung cancer and other debilitating diseases. Public health experts estimate that 280 workers die each year from silicosis—and thousands more develop silicosis as a result of workplace exposures.
But a proposed workplace standard on silica dust exposure from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been delayed for nearly two years as the Office of Management and Budget reviews the proposed standard.
You can help spur action on controlling this deadly workplace hazard by signing a White House “We the People” petition urging the Obama administration to move forward with the silica dust standard. Laborers (LIUNA) President Terry O'Sullivan says:
Any further delays in the rule-making process will only add to the death toll. The construction industry urgently needs stronger OSHA standards to prevent overexposure to silica dust. LIUNA and our supporters across the country will keep fighting for progress on this issue until a new safety standard is approved.
The petition requires 25,000 signatures by Feb. 11 to elicit a formal response from the White House. Click here to sign the petition.
The current delay in moving ahead with a silica dust standard is just the latest in what is now a 15-year saga of trying to protect workers, even though the dangers of exposure to silica dust and the crippling and fatal lung disease it causes have been known for decades.
At a Senate hearing last year focusing on the innumerable delays and roadblocks new OSHA safety standards must clear before becoming law—about eight years—Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, blasted corporate opposition to workplace safety laws and anti-worker lawmakers for blocking needed safety measures.
Today, rather than hearing outrage over worker deaths, we hear misinformation campaigns from corporate lobbyists about OSHA supposedly killing jobs. We see legislative proposals that call for blanket prohibitions on new regulations and proposals to add even more red tape to the regulatory process….We must come up with ways for OSHA to do its job without intimidation or interference.