NAHB Working to Derail Silica Standard

"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 NAHB Chairman Ed 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."

The National Association of Home Builders is urging members of Congress to prevent OSHA's new silica standard from taking effect. Testifying before the House Education and Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill., said the association's 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."

Brady said the final rule is technologically impracticable, because it would require construction firms to develop and install engineering and work practice controls to mitigate or remove silica dust that are beyond current technology, and economically infeasible. OSHA's Preliminary Economic Analysis did not recognize the distinction between new construction and remodeling or the relationship between a general contractor and its subcontractors, and it underestimated the economic costs to the construction industry, which could run $4.9 billion per year, according to NAHB, which calls this the most significant health and safety rule ever issued for the construction sector.

Maintaining that the rule is unworkable, the association says it provides no guidance to determine whether employees may reasonably be expected to be exposed to silica dust, so employers will have to perform health screening at a cost of $377.77 per employee as estimated by OSHA. "Virtually all of 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 construction employee required only one health screening per year at a cost of $377.77, the total tally would be roughly $1.2 billion," NAHB said, adding that "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."

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