Letter to MSHA Requesting an Extension of the Comment Period for the Proposed Silica Rule
On July 13, 2023, The Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA) published a proposed rule, “Lowering Miners' Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica and Improving Respiratory Protection.” (Silica Standard). The Silica Standard provides for a public comment period of 45-days, which expires at midnight eastern time on August 28, 2023. The National Stone Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) requests an extension of the public comment period for an additional 60-days and proposes that the public comment period be extended until midnight eastern time on October 27, 2023. The reasons for the request are set forth below.
The NSSGA represents the nation’s aggregates (crushed stone), sand and gravel and industrial sand companies. The NSSGA has over 450 member companies, and it represents over 9,000 member company operations with over 100,000 employees. Many NSSGA companies have significant experience managing occupational exposures to silica, including relevant experience on industrial hygiene sampling, medical surveillance, training, the use of respiratory protection and other issues relevant to the MSHA Silica Standard. NSSGA company health and safety personnel have worked with MSHA and NIOSH Mining for decades on projects to advance practical solutions to reduce silica exposures, e.g., helmet-CAM and EVADE technology, clothes cleaning booths and enclosed cab filtration and pressurization, to name just a few. NSSGA has been a member of the NIOSH Mine Safety Health Research Advisory Committee (MSHRAC) through member company and association staff for over a decade. NSSGA industrial sand company personnel co-authored the NIOSH and IMA-NA “Dust Control Handbook for Industrial Minerals Operations.” NSSGA member companies have made their dust sampling and medical surveillance data available to researchers to further the science on silica health effects, which has led to the publication of several important data-supported articles. The industrial sand members of the NSSGA, through their prior organization (the National Industrial Sand Association), published a comprehensive occupational health program for silica in 1977, which included a medical surveillance program.