Update on Court Challenge to the Federal Silica Rule

First, The Cohen Group wishes our blog readers a very Happy New Year.  Please feel free to call us if we can assist with your occupational health and safety concerns.  We’d love to hear from you. Following Federal OSHA’s adoption of the silica standard, various industry and labor groups petitioned the courts for changes to the standard.  Those arguments were heard in August 2017 and the courts ruled on December 22, 2017.  In summary, below are the rulings.

Industry petitioned for review of five issues regarding whether there was substantial evidence to support OSHA’s findings that: (1) limiting silica exposure reduces the risk of health impairment; (2) that there is technological feasibility within several industries, including construction to reduce exposure; (3) there is economic feasibility within several industries, including construction; (4) whether OSHA violated an Administrative Procedure in setting the standard, and (5) two provisions; one that allows workers who undergo medical examinations can keep the results confidential from their employers and one that prohibits employers from using dry cleaning methods unless doing so is infeasible.

The court rejected all of industry’s challenges.

The Unions petitioned two parts of the Rule; (1) the requirement that medical surveillance for construction workers be provided only if the employee has to wear a respirator for 30 days for one employer in a one-year period, and (2) the absence of medical removal protections. The court ruled that the Union’s challenge to the 30 day limitation before providing medical surveillance was rejected.  The Union’s challenge to the absence of medical removal protections is remanded to Federal OSHA to adequately explain its decision on that issue.

Bottom line is none of the court’s decisions effect the current standard at the Federal and State level, so there are no changes of the Silica rule at this time.  We have the complete copy of the Court ruling.  If interested, let us know and we’d be happy to send you a copy.

Again, Happy New Year.