By SAM HANANEL
WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal regulators are proposing a long-awaited rule that would dramatically limit workplace exposure to silica dust.
Officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say the new limits would save nearly 700 lives each year and prevent thousands of illnesses, including cancer and lung disease.
The rule would cut in half the amount of silica exposure currently allowed for general industry and maritime workers. It would cut it by 80 percent in the construction industry. The dust is often found at construction sites, glass manufacturing plants and hydraulic fracturing operations.
Workplace safety groups have urged OSHA for years to set new exposure limits, saying they would protect lives. Industry groups contend that lower limits are not necessary and will be too difficult and costly to measure for thousands of businesses.