NAHB Urges Congress to Stop New Silica Rules

Filed in Advocacy, Codes and Standards by on April 19, 2016 10 Comments

brick wallNAHB Chairman Ed Brady today urged Congress to take action to keep the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new silica standards from taking effect.

Testifying before the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, Brady said that “our members are deeply committed to taking meaningful action to provide a safe work and construction environment, including reducing exposure to silica. However, we believe the new rule will not only fail to achieve these aims, but it will also do great harm to businesses, consumers and the economy.”

Walberg, Brady

Subcommittee Chair Tim Walberg (R-Mich., left) poses with NAHB Chair Ed Brady.

Brady, who also appeared before the House panel as a representative of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, 25 trade associations representing members from all facets of the industry, called the final regulation:

  • Technologically impracticable. To meet the new standards, the rule would require construction firms to develop and install engineering and work practice controls to mitigate or remove silica dust that are beyond current technology.
  • Economically infeasible. OSHA’s Preliminary Economic Analysis failed to recognize the distinction between new construction and remodeling, or the relationship between a general contractor and its subcontractors. The agency’s out-of-date economic data drastically underestimates the costs to the construction industry, which could run $4.9 billion per year, an amount nearly eight times larger than OSHA’s estimates. The cost of this most significant health and safety rule ever issued for the construction sector will be passed to the consumer in the form of higher prices. As the cost of housing increases and access to credit remains tight, home buyers and renters will have fewer safe, decent and affordable housing options.
  • Unworkable in terms of requiring medical surveillance of construction industry workers. The rule offers no guidance to determine if employees may reasonably be expected to be exposed to silica dust. In the absence of such guidance, the employer’s only option is to perform health screening that OSHA itself estimates will cost $377.77 per employee. Virtually all the nation’s 3.2 million construction workers will cut and drill and grind during the course of their work without knowing the silica content of the material they are working on. If each employee required only one  screening per year, the tally would be roughly $1.2 billion.
  • The wrong solution to make the workplace safer. Though the intent of the rule is to protect workers from toxic dust particles, the final provisions display a fundamental misunderstanding of the real world of construction. This one-size-fits-all rule places restrictions on certain construction site work practices, which contradict existing safety procedures.

“We strongly urge OSHA to re-examine and reassess how its final rule will negatively harm the construction industry, job growth, consumers and the economy while doing little to improve the health and safety of industry workers,” said Brady. “Given that it is unlikely the agency will change course, Congress must take the lead and act swiftly to craft legislation that will keep this fundamentally flawed rule from taking effect.”

For additional information on the new rule, contact Rob Matuga at 202-266-8507.

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Comments (10)

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  1. Lee Snyder says:

    This OSHA rule just further demonstrates how absurd this agency has become.

  2. Dan Sloan says:

    It really feels like the Administration and many of its departments are dead set on making life as difficult and expensive to operate a construction firm as possible. They routinely outright lie about compliance costs, knowing there are no repercussions to themselves personally or even to the agency if their so-called cost estimates are over by hundreds of percent!!

  3. Keep me in the loop with this one I’ve been on both sides of the fence…

  4. R Hicks says:

    Sorry guys, I disagree with NAHB on this one. I see my brother in-law dying of silicosis. Watch someone drown in their own breath and tell me then that you disagree. I see many commercial builders who work for the Army Corps of Engineers able to limit exposures fairly easily and inexpensively. Not hard or expensive.

  5. Harry Crowell says:

    This is just another example of over regulating all aspects of business from people that absolutely have no experience with an actual job or are just making rules to add a workload to government to prove their need for more money to run their departments.

  6. “our members are deeply committed to taking meaningful action to provide a safe work and construction environment, including reducing exposure to silica.”

    Where’s the hyperlink to the actions taken?

  7. greg says:

    Seems like the existing rules, enforced, would solve most problems, i.e., wear a osha approved breathing apparatus.

  8. If the cost estimates where correct and the rule was targeted to specific task , Just feel like OSHA and the EPA do whatever they want with incorrect information and then it is jammed down our throats ,thanks for taking care of us and sending us into economic disaster. This will only financially affect the guys that already play by the rules

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