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

Jay Costa | March 24, 2014

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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