OSHA Puts Brakes on New Silica Handling Rules for Fracking

In June 2012, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) issued a joint hazard alert for workers who use silica (sand) used in fracking (see this MDN story). OSHA has been working for several years on a revision of its silica dust regulations—long before a new report was issued by NIOSH on silica used in fracking. The NIOSH report, released in May 2012, caused OSHA and NIOSH to issue the joint hazard alert in June.

The hazard alert, while using strong language to encourage stricter rules for handling silica, apparently does not carry the full weight of being a regulation—i.e., it’s not enforceable. The enforceable regulation comes from OSHA and release of a revised regulation on silica handling for fracking and other uses is now on pause. How come?

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