OSHA severely underestimates costs of silica standard, construction coalition says


Arlington, VA – OSHA’s proposed silica standard will cost employers billions of dollars more than the agency has estimated, according to a report from the Construction Industry Safety Coalition.

The March 26 report states that the rule could cost the construction industry $5 billion a year – far greater than OSHA’s estimate of $500 million per year. According to the report, OSHA’s estimate is a “fundamental misunderstanding” of the construction industry, contains several errors and ignores the impact of cost increases.

“This report reveals the critical need for OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule until it can put forth a technologically and economically feasible rule that also works to improve industry workers’ health and safety,” Tom Woods, chairman of CISC member National Association of Home Builders, said in a press release.

OSHA has said the proposed rule will provide “flexible alternatives” to allow construction employers to choose which dust control measures would perform best in their work environments.

More than 2 million workers are exposed to silica on the job, according to OSHA. Exposure to silica dust has been linked to the respiratory disease silicosis as well as lung cancer and kidney disease. The agency expects the proposed rule to prevent 700 deaths and 1,600 new silicosis cases every year.