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Groups ask OSHA to extend comment time on silica exposure changes

Los Angeles construction companies and workers may be following with interest a request to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration that calls for an extension on the comment period on proposed changes to rules regulating silica exposure standards. Organizations requesting the extension include Associated Builders and Contractors, Construction Industry Safety Coalition and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The deadline for commenting on OSHA's proposed changes is Dec. 11. The groups are seeking a 90-day extension to that deadline because the material that needs to be reviewed is too massive to be accomplished in the original time frame. The groups also are asking that public hearings on the proposed changes be delayed as well. They further would like OSHA to hold separate hearings for the construction industry. Additionally, the groups would like public hearings held in other places outside of Washington, D.C., which is now the only place OSHA plans to hold them.

OSHA's proposal reduces the amount of respirable crystalline silica that workers can be safely exposed to in the construction industry. A spokesperson for the National Industrial Sand Association, of the requesting groups, commented that a national policy on silica exposure is a good idea, but OSHA needs to take the time to make sure it is properly formulated.

California workers who are exposed to silica in amounts that exceed the current safety levels may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they become ill as a result. A workers' compensation attorney may be able to assist sick workers in getting their entitled compensation, since receiving benefits for illnesses may be more difficult than getting benefits for workplace accidents. An attorney could be the worker's advocate in these cases.

Source: Occupational Health and Safety, "Groups Seek Comment Extension on Silica Proposed Rule", October 07, 2013

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