Two major industry associations, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the Louisiana chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on April 4th, challenging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) revised crystalline silica rule.
“OSHA’s silica regulation is based on flawed science, flawed economic data, and flawed logic,” says ARTBA President Pete Ruane in an ARTBA press release. “The unintended consequence of the proposal is that it will actually expose road workers to greater risk by diverting resources away from other legitimate safety programs.” Ruane adds that the association’s latest challenge to the silica rule is a “no-brainer.”
Throughout the rulemaking process, ARTBA says it pointed out a number of problems with the new silica standard, but despite numerous attempts to have the concerns addressed during the rulemaking process, OSHA ignored them in the final rule.
“Our members are deeply committed to taking every possible step to provide a safe construction environment, including reducing silica exposure,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer, in an AGC press release. “However, we have significant concerns about whether this new rule is technically feasible, given that the agency’s final permissible exposure limit is beyond the capacity of existing dust filtration and removal technology.”
Sandherr says that, while the administration made a number of changes to the final rule, the association feels that it is still not acceptable. He notes that there have been great reductions in silicosis within the construction industry since the original standard was put in place, and even more lives could be saved by getting greater compliance with that standard.
He says the association has urged federal officials to create measures that would allow firms that are not meeting the prior standard to comply.
Filing the petition is just the beginning of what will probably be a lengthy legal challenge, and a court victory is not certain, Sandherr adds in the press release. He says the AGC will continue to work with Congress and the next presidential administration to improve the flawed rule so that it truly benefits the health and safety of the construction workforce.