PITTSBURGH, Aug. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today welcomed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposal for a stricter federal standard governing workplace silica exposure. OSHA announced the proposal at a news conference today in Washington, D.C.
Some 1.7 million U.S. workers are exposed to silica dust on the job and, over time, inhaling silica dust can lead to lung diseases such as silicosis and lung cancer.
"This action is long overdue – too many workers have died from exposure to silica," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "Regulations like these save lives."
The USW has investigated the dangers of silica exposure for many years and knows that exposure to it can be controlled, creating safer workplaces. "The best employers are already doing what OSHA has proposed," said Gerard. "But everyone deserves protection from deadly workplace diseases."
Alan White of USW Local 593, which represents workers at copper producer Aurubis in Buffalo, N.Y., spoke at today's OSHA announcement. He said: "Three years ago, I went to a doctor and after a series of tests he told me that I will die from exposure to silica. Eighteen years ago, I was excited to get a job at the foundry. At the time, I was a single parent, making ends meet with assistance from the government. When I got my job at the foundry I made $62,000 the first year and thought I was set. I was ready and willing to give my all to work. But I never realized that that included my life."
The USW represents 850,000 members in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It is the largest private-sector union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil, health care, security, hotels, municipal governments and agencies.
CONTACT: Jim Frederick,
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)