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Court tosses industry challenge to silica rule

Oklahoma employees who have to work around silica should be aware of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It rejected the challenges from industry groups regarding the silica rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The court also required the agency to explain why medical surveillance provisions were left out of the silica rule.

The rule was issued in March 2016 and was created to provide protection for the greater than 2 million workers in the United States who are exposed to crystalline silica. It lowers the acceptable exposure limit during an eight-hour work period for multiple industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The new limit represents one-fifth of the previous limit for the construction industry and one-half of the former limit for other industries.

The United States Chamber of Commerce and various other industry groups had multiple objections to the rule. For example, some challenged whether there was significant proof that supported OSHA's assertion that reducing exposure to silica to the limit established by the rule lowered the workers' risk of having their health noticeably impaired. There were also challenges as to whether enough evidence upheld OSHA's conclusion that the construction, foundry and hydraulic fracturing industries would find the silica rule economically and technologically sound.

People who develop occupational diseases due to inadequate workplace safety may have legal recourse. One method of obtaining compensation could be the filing of a workers' compensation claim, and an attorney can often help to ensure that all required documentation is included.

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