On April 6, the Trump administration announced it will delay the implementation of a workplace regulation designed to protect workers in Louisiana and nationwide from cancer-causing dust. The regulation would save an estimated 600 lives per year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The silica rule, which was finalized under the Obama administration, places limits on the amount of hazardous silica dust that companies can expose their workers to. Silica dust is often found in sand, granite and other construction materials and can cause a respiratory disease called silicosis, a condition linked with lung cancer. Federal statistics show that approximately 2.2 million U.S. workers are exposed to the substance every year. Work safety advocates have been pushing for stronger exposure regulations for nearly 40 years.
The silica rule was scheduled to go into effect in June, but the Trump administration’s delay pushes back enforcement until at least September. The White House claims it needs to obtain guidance on the rule. However, some work safety advocates fear President Trump will further delay the rule or weaken it. Trump’s labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, refused to commit to the silica rule during his confirmation hearing.
Louisiana employers have a responsibility to create and maintain a safe work environment for their employees. Workers harmed by silica dust exposure may be eligible to file for workers’ compensation benefits. Some workers seek the advice of an attorney before filing their claim. If a claim has already been filed and rejected, an attorney could file an appeal on the worker’s behalf.
Source: Huffington Post, “Trump Administration Delays Life-Saving Safety Regulation“, Dave Jamieson, April 6, 2017