On September 12, 2013, OSHA published a proposal to revise a 40 year old rule that the agency says will save about 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis each year. While the rule likely won’t be finalized for several years, employer liability will be impacted by the more rigorous proposed rule even before it is finalized.
To an industrial hygienist and occupational safety specialist, whether or not the rule becomes finalized is moot. A rule proposed by OSHA is based on current knowledge of the hazards of silica and is considered “State of the Art”. For this reason, liability-wise it is prudent to attempt to comply with the most current proposed standard. Businesses may not get a citation from OSHA yet, but employees can still get sick and file Workers’ Compensation claims.