[Washington, D.C.] March 24, 2016 – U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez today announced the promulgation of the long-overdue final silica rule. The new rule will prevent about 600 deaths and thousands of illnesses related to silica exposure each year. Secretary Perez made the announcement in Bowie, Maryland at the John J. Flynn BAC/IMI International Training Center.
The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) has taken a leading role in working with community and industry partners, scientists and lawmakers to ensure adoption of the final rule. “This is a huge step forward for millions of workers in the U.S., including BAC members who have suffered from silica dust exposure for generations,” BAC President James Boland said. “Many thanks to all our members who helped put a human face on the loss and illness associated with this occupational peril. Together, our Union and the labor movement have and will continue to improve safety and health protections for our workers. Together, we can make workers’ lives better. And together, we will continue the fight to protect this final standard.”
To raise public awareness of the deadly consequences of silica exposure and support the final adoption of OSHA’s proposed silica rule, BAC launched a “Stop Silica from Killing Again” campaign, and its members also testified at OSHA hearings sharing their personal stories on dangers of silica exposure, among many other efforts. “We will keep fighting to ensure that working people are protected from this avoidable danger,” said BAC Executive Vice President Gerard Scarano.
“More than 80 years ago, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins identified silica dust as a deadly hazard and called on employers to fully protect workers,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. “This rule will save lives. It will enable workers to earn a living without sacrificing their health. It builds upon decades of research and a lengthy stakeholder engagement process – including the consideration of thousands of public comments – to finally give workers the kind of protection they deserve and that Frances Perkins had hoped for them.”
President Boland added, “This is why it is so important to have a ‘Collaborator-in Chief’ in the white house—someone who knows how to get things done. We thank President Obama and his Labor Secretary for making the safety of workers a priority.”
The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the oldest continuous union in North America and represents roughly 80,000 skilled masonry-trowel trades craftworkers in the United States and Canada, including bricklayers, tile setters, cement masons, plasterers, stone masons, marble masons, restoration workers, and terrazzo and mosaic workers.