Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) extended the public comment period for its proposed rule to update OSHA’s standards for worker exposure to crystalline silica dust from January 27, 2014 to February 11, 2014. The extension was made due to concerns regarding possible public confusion due to an error on www.regulations.gov.
In September, House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) added the proposed regulation to the Committee’s digital resource, Small Biz Reg Watch, which encourages small businesses to make their voice heard by submitting comments on how a rule may affect them. In October, Graves wrote a letter to OSHA asking for a delay in the comment period to allow more time for small business input. The next day, OSHA delayed the comment period an additional 47 days. And in December, Graves joined Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID) in expressing concern regarding OSHA’s unsatisfactory outreach to small businesses through a Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) panel, as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
“I’m pleased that OSHA is giving the public more time to make their voices heard on how this proposed rule may affect them,” said Chairman Graves. “Because this rule could create new standards and requirements for small businesses in construction, manufacturing, and many other industries, significant input from the small business community is needed so the final rule is one that increases safety and is technologically and economically feasible.”
Crystalline silica is a natural component of soil, sand, granite and other materials. When workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects that contain crystalline silica, dust is generated that can be inhaled that puts workers at risk for silicosis, lung cancer and other diseases. OSHA is proposing two new crystalline silica standards, one for general industry and maritime and one for the construction industry.
Through the "Small Biz Reg Watch" initiative, the Committee regularly highlights new agency proposed rules that may have a significant effect on small businesses. The Committee also communicates with small businesses via email and social media when new comment periods begin for select proposed rules that have a significant impact on a wide array of small businesses. The website URL is: www.smallbusiness.house.gov/RegWatch