AIHA Held Congressional Briefing on OSHA Silica Dust Rule

As President Trump and Congress begin taking steps to pull back Federal regulations, many questions loom regarding the potential impacts of their actions on worker health and safety. Seeing a need to educate policymakers on the nuances of OEHS issues, AIHA has begun taking action.

AIHA organized a Capitol Hill briefing on February 15, for members of Congress and their staff, stakeholders such as AIHA members, and the general public on an issue that has widespread impact – OSHA’s final rule on respirable crystalline silica. The briefing was moderated by AIHA CEO Lawrence Sloan, CAE, and featured presentations from AIHA Past President Daniel H. Anna, PhD, CIH, CSP, and former Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels, PhD, MPH, who is also a professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health of George Washington University.

Also addressing the briefing were three members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH-1), and Darren Soto (D-FL-9), each of whom spoke in support of the silica rule and worker health and safety.

Although this rule is in the process of implementation, it still faces threats from some policymakers who view it as harmful to the construction, oil and natural gas, and related industries. As such, there is an active effort underway in Congress to do any and everything possible to delay, reopen, revise, or nullify this rule, which they see as “costly and burdensome.”

AIHA supports the silica rule, but our goal with this briefing wasn’t merely to advertise our support, but to help policymakers understand why we support the rule, which, when fully implemented, OSHA expects will prevent some 600 deaths each year from silica-related diseases, and have net benefits of between $3.8 and $7.7 billion.

Education is not an end point, but a continuum. Accordingly, AIHA and our partners will continue our efforts to help policymakers understand the background and merits of the silica rule. As they seek to improve society through regulatory and other reform, we will be there to offer our expert guidance on how to best protect worker health and safety.

The Capitol Hill silica briefing was cosponsored by the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), the American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP). As Dan Anna noted in his remarks, collectively AIHA and these organizations represent more than 60,000 occupational and environmental health and safety professionals. Together, the work of these organizations impact a great many more.

To view the full video of the briefing, please visit the AIHA Network TV​ channel.  ​

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