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A Win for Worker Safety: New Silica Rule Stays on Track in Budget Deal

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson, roger@rkcommunications.net, 734.645.0535

Funding extended for 9-11 First Responders and Families
But OSHA and Mine Safety Budgets Are Frozen at 2014 Levels,
Despite Need for More Inspections and Enforcement

 SAN DIEGO -- “Millions of workers and their families can breath more safely now," said Jessica Martinez, Acting Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). "It’s great news that despite efforts by special interests, the new proposed federal budget will not interfere with OSHA’s decades-long effort to reduce worker exposure to deadly silica dust."

“OSHA’s new silica standard, scheduled for release in February 2016, is based on sound science and will require practical, economically feasible measures to control silica dust," said Peter Dooley, safety and health project consultant at National COSH. "As a result, workplaces will be safer in construction, foundries, hydraulic fracturing, quarrying, tunneling and other industries. The public will also benefit from reduced exposure to silica dust, a known human carcinogen."

First responders to the 9-11 terrorist attacks also won an important victory, with a 75-year extension of the World Trade Center Health Program. "Those who rushed to help on that tragic day are still suffering health impacts and must have access to medical monitoring and treatment," said Dooley.

A budget freeze at federal worker safety agencies, however, will reduce capacity for enforcement of important safety laws.

“It is unfortunate that budget authorization for OSHA and for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration will remain frozen at 2014 levels, which means cutbacks in critical safety personnel," said Martinez. "Tens of thousands of workers die each year from traumatic injuries and long-term exposure to workplace hazards. We need more inspections and enforcement, not less.”

 

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.