Senators Criticizing Conflict of Interest Disclosure Surrounding OSHA Ruling Receive Timely Contributions from Rule's Opponents

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently in the midst of hearing testimony on a proposed rule that would reduce the level of crystalline silica considered to be permissible in the workplace. Silica, a component of sand, granite, and other minerals, becomes a respirable particle when such minerals are cut or drilled, and has been classified as a human lung carcinogen.

Proponents of the rule, including the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society, cite studies showing a relationship between breathing silica dust and the development of silicosis, a disease affecting the lungs that in severe cases can be fatal. The Chamber of Commerce and American Chemistry Council, joined by a number of groups from the construction, oil & gas, mining, and manufacturing industries, oppose the rule, questioning the validity of the aforementioned studies and criticizing it as technologically and economically unfeasible.

A number of opponent groups have asked OSHA on multiple occasions to extend the period during which stakeholders are allowed to comment on the proposed rule. In November, 16 senators wrote a letter to OSHA making the same request and asking the agency to convene a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel to assess the impact that the rule would have on small businesses. The senators also expressed concern about a request OSHA had made that those commenting on the ruling disclose their financial backers.

  • Since July 24, 2013, 120 days before the letter was written, the 16 Senators authoring the letter to OSHA have received $151,266 from groups expressing explicit opposition to the proposed ruling, asking for substantive changes, or requesting an extension of the comment period.

The charts below show a MapLight analysis of who gave the contributions and when they were made.

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