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AGC Files Suit to Block Obama Administration's Misguided Silica Rule

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AGC of America, working closely with the Louisiana AGC chapter, has taken an important legal step in reaction to the Obama administration's recently released silica rule. On Monday, April 4, 2016, the Louisiana AGC filed a challenge to OSHA's final respirable crystalline silican rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In doing so, the chapter joined a number of local industry partners who are also concerned about the impact of the rule on the construction industry.

"Our members are deeply committed to taking every possible step to reducing silica exposure on your worksites," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the national association’s chief executive officer.  "However, we have significant concerns about whether this new rule is technically feasible, given that the agency’s final permissible exposure limit is beyond the capacity of existing dust filtration and removal technology."

Sandherr added that while the administration did make a number of the changes to the final rule, including dropping requirements for contractors to establish regulated areas that would block access to parts of construction sites where dust is being generated, the association continues to feel that this final rule is not acceptable.  

He added that the association has long urged federal officials to craft measures that would allow the roughly 25 percent of firms not meeting the prior standard to comply.  Given the tremendous reductions in silicosis within the construction industry that has taken place since that standard was put in place, even more lives could be saved by getting greater compliance with that standard, the association executive noted.

Filing the petition today starts what is likely to be a lengthy legal challenge to this measure, Sandherr added. But he cautioned that as flawed as the new Silica rule is, victory in court is far from certain.  That is why he said the association would continue to work with Congress and the next presidential administration to seek measures to improve this flawed rule in a way that truly benefits the health and safety of our workforce.
 

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