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New OSHA regulations keep New Jersey workers safe

Starting in Feb. 2016, new OSHA rules would limit workers' exposure to silica dust. OSHA announced that the safety expectations related to this hazard would be increased for the first time in 45 years. Workers who are exposed to silica may develop incurable lung illnesses. Industries that would be affected by the new rule hoped that a rider in the 2016 budget would stall its implementation. Nonetheless, riders that were preventing funding to enforce the new rules were stripped from the federal funding bill.

OSHA says that up to two million workers may be exposed to silica with at least 100,000 of those workers involved in rock drilling or stone cutting. The new rule is expected to save almost 700 lives while preventing 1,600 people from developing silicosis each year.

This would result in a cost savings of $2.8 to $4.7 billion, which is expected to offset costs related to complying with the new rule. Since 1997, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed crystalline silica as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, the Department of Labor has shown concern about silica since the 1930s, and the health and safety director of the United Steelworkers contends that the rule would save lives.

Workers who suffer an injury or contract an illness through the course of their employment may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. These benefits are offered on a temporary or permanent basis depending on the circumstances in the case. It may be possible for an attorney to help workers receive compensation for medical bills and to provide for any dependents the injured worker may have.

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