It will now be easier for the government to inspect shops where workers might get exposed to lung-damaging silica dust. But it's unclear how much it will affect countertop workers.
Slabs of engineered quartz are cut to order in thousands of shops around the country that may not adequately protect workers from dangerous levels of the lung-damaging contaminant.
In a letter, they urge the Labor Department to ensure safe levels of silica dust at workplaces that cut popular "engineered stone." At least 18 workers have recently suffered severe lung damage.
The sand is pumped underground along with water and other chemicals to extract oil and natural gas trapped deep in rock. But researchers found that air samples taken at some drilling sites contained high enough levels of very fine silica particles to be dangerous to workers.
Regulations to restrict the amount of silica dust that workers can inhale were set decades ago, and workplace safety experts say that limit needs to be cut in half. A proposal for new rules was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for a 90-day review, but almost two years later, it's still under review.