In recognition of the extreme health hazards posed by the inhalation of silica dust -- silicosis, cancer, lung infections, etc. -- the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recently proposed a new rule that, if finalized, would both update the existing silica standard and provide far greater protection to workers.
Indeed, OSHA estimates that the new silica rule could prevent the onset of nearly 1,600 new silicosis cases every year and save as many as 700 lives. Until such time as this final rule is adopted, however, OSHA inspectors will need to remain extra vigilant to ensure the respiratory health of workers is protected.
It appears as if the agency is doing just this, as an iron foundry here in Wisconsin was recently cited for three OSHA violations, including a repeat violation for exposing workers to silica dust.