USW panels to testify in OSHA hearings on proposed standard for workplace exposure to crystalline silica

Mar 28, 2014, 09:35 ET from United Steelworkers (USW)

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Panels representing the United Steelworkers (USW) who are job safety specialists will each present testimony this morning at public hearings being held by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in support of a OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure.

The two USW panels will include workers from facilities where job exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs daily. USW members are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and shipyards. The hearings run Mar. 18 - Apr. 4 in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the USDOL (200 Constitution Ave., NW).

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases.

The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure levels in half; require exposure monitoring; medical exams for workers and implementation of dust control methods. The updated standard would protect more than two million workers exposed to deadly silica dust.

The USW members testifying will be led by Mike Wright, Director of the USW Health, Safety & Environment Dept. in Pittsburgh, PA. Moderating the panels will be Ashlee Fitch of USW Local 5668 at Century Aluminum Corp., Ravenswood, WV. She is completing a Master's Degree program in Health & Safety Management at the University of West Virginia.

Panel 1:  9:30 -10:30 am

  1. Alan White – USW Local 593, foundry worker; Buffalo, NY
  2. Mike Wright – Director, USW  Health, Safety & Environment Dept.; Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Dr. Steven Markowitz – Director of the Center for Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College, City University of New York; he is a USW consulting occupational physician.
  4. John Scardella – Program Administrator, Tony Mazzocchi Center for Worker Health & Safety Education; Pittsburgh.

Panel 2:  10:30 – 11:30 am

  1. Tim Tuttle – Director, USW Glass Industry Council; Pittsburgh
  2. Allen Harville – USW Local 8888, safety & health committee chair, Newport News Shipyard; Newport News, VA.
  3. Rami Katrib – Intern with the USW Health, Safety & Environment Dept., a graduate student in a Master's Degree program for public health at the University of West Virginia.
  4. Anna Fendley – USW Legislative Representative; Washington, D.C.
  5. Jim Frederick – Assistant Director, USW Health, Safety & Environment Dept.; Pittsburgh.

Additional information on the proposed rule, including five fact sheets, is available at

The USW is the largest private-sector union in North America, representing 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining and renewable energy products, chemicals, transportation, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments

Contacts: Jim Frederick, (412)-562 2586, (724) 462-5364, 
Gary Hubbard, (202)-778-4384, (202)-256-8125,

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SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)