Advocates for Labor and Progressive Institutions

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D.C. Circuit requires OSHA to reconsider omission of certain medical removal protections from new silica standard

December 21, 2017

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sustained the new silica standard promulgated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) against a multipronged challenge by industry employers impacted by the standard.

The new standard lowers the permissible exposure of workers to respirable crystalline silica—a dangerous substance commonly found in workplaces with rock, sand, gravel, concrete, and brick. In addition, at the behest of unions representing workers exposed to silica, the Court held that the new silica standard improperly failed to protect the earnings and employment rights of workers whose doctors recommend permanent or temporary removal from the workplace on account of symptoms or disease related to silica exposure. The Court remanded the matter to OSHA to reconsider or further explain the omission of those protections from the new silica standard. Bredhoff & Kaiser was one of the three law firms representing the unions that petitioned and intervened in the matter, advocating for more stringent protection of workers exposed to silica in the workplace. North American Building Trades Unions v. OSHA, 878 F.3d 271 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (per curiam).