WASHINGTON—A top federal appeals court has unanimously rejected an attempt to weaken the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration’s 2016 rule covering workers’ exposure to silica dust. A three-judge panel U.S. Court of Appeals denied all five objections to the rule raised by industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The groups had asked the courts to review issues including whether limiting exposure to silica reduced workers’ risk of serious health problems, and whether the rule was technologically and economically feasible for the foundry, hydraulic fracturing and construction industries. “We reject all of industry’s challenges,” wrote the judges, who included Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s blocked nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016. A spokesperson for the Chamber of Commerce told the industrial-safety publication EHSToday that “we continue to believe that OSHA lacks substantial evidence to support its rule.” According to OSHA, more than 2 million workers a year are exposed to some level of silica particles 1/100th the size of a grain of sand, which can cause silicosis, an incurable lung disease. “We are proud to see these standards remain the law of the land,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.