DOL Finalizes Rule To Curb Miners’ Exposure To Silica Dust

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DOL Finalizes Rule To Curb Miners' Exposure To Silica Dust

The U.S. Department of Labor has introduced new regulations to limit miners’ exposure to hazardous silica dust in an effort to protect workers from chronic health issues and death. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) finalized the rule on Tuesday, which primarily aligns with the proposed version released last year.

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DOL Finalizes Rule To Curb Miners’ Exposure To Silica Dust : Stricter Safety Standards

The rule establishes a new exposure limit of 50 micrograms of crystalline silica per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour shift in coal, metal, and nonmetal mines. This is part of an ongoing effort to enhance protections against airborne hazards in the mining industry. The regulation will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, with most measures taking effect within two months.

Labor Secretary Julie Su stated, “It is unconscionable that our nation’s miners have worked without adequate protection from silica dust despite it being a known health hazard for decades.” She expressed determination to ensure miners can work in safer conditions.

Gradual Compliance Deadlines

Coal mine operators will have one year to comply with the new regulations, while metal and nonmetal mine operators have two years. These staggered timelines aim to balance the need for immediate protection with allowing mine operators to prepare for the changes.