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Michaels fails to address silica delay

October 29, 2012

OSHA’s update to its Crystalline Silica Standard has been under review for almost two years, a delay OSHA administrator David Michaels avoided addressing when recently questioned about it.

The standard’s 624 days of review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget is nearly 7 times longer than the typical review period of 90 days. A notice of proposed rulemaking originally was scheduled to be issued in June 2011.

During a Q&A session following a keynote address during the 2012 NSC Congress & Expo in Orlando, FL, on Oct. 23, Michaels was asked about the delay in promulgating the standard. In response, Michaels instead addressed the safety concerns of silica in “fracking” operations.

Such operations entail injecting large amounts of water, sand and chemicals into a well to force gas or oil out, and both NIOSH and OSHA have raised concerns about potential health hazards of the process.

Although the risk of silica in fracking operations should be addressed, one can only hope it is done so more expeditiously than silica in the general industry.

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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