While it took nearly three years of waiting, the American Thoracic Society is pleased that OSHA has issued its final rule establishing a more protective standard for occupational silica. The new more protective standard will greatly reduce exposure to this known and potentially deadly occupational hazard.
Despite that fact that the dangers of silica exposure have been known for decades and cost effective methods to reduce silica exposure exist, each year physicians diagnose 1,600 new cases of silica-related diseases. These diseases are largely preventable and the newly finalized OSHA exposure limits, combined with enhanced workplace sampling and medical monitoring required by this regulation, will significantly reduce their rates of occurrence in the U.S.
"Each case of newly-diagnosed silica-related disease in the U.S. represents a failure at the workplace to maintain a safe working environment for employees. Silica-related diseases are preventable with simple, inexpensive interventions. Today's rule will greatly improve the workplace environment for millions of working Americans," Robert Cohen, MD, occupational health expert and ATS spokesperson.