AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued the following statement in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issuing new workplace silica standards:
Today, millions of workers can literally breathe easier knowing that they will not have to sacrifice their lungs and their lives by working in deadly silica dust. The new OSHA silica rules—nearly 20 years in the making—will save hundreds of workers’ lives a year.
Silica dust is a killer that causes silicosis, lung cancer and other disabling diseases. Workers in construction, foundries and ship building are exposed, and thousands of workers get sick each year. The current OSHA silica standards are 50 years old and are too weak to protect workers.
The new silica rules are the most significant OSHA standards issued in decades. They cut permissible dust exposures in half for manufacturing workers and even more for construction workers. The rules require employers to control dust through commonsense measures like ventilation and water, to monitor exposures, train workers and conduct medical exams.
We applaud the Barack Obama administration for issuing these lifesaving measures and commend Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and OSHA Assistant Secretary David Michaels for their tremendous leadership and dedication to bring the silica rules to completion. The labor movement has fought for these standards for decades. We will continue to fight to defend these rules from the certain industry attacks that will come, so that workers are finally protected from this deadly dust.