In August, 2003 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA) proposed a comprehensive regulation to measure the amount of sand (crystalline silica) in the workplace. While excessive amounts of silica in the body are known to be a carcinogen, the number of silica related deaths in the U.S. has fallen from about 2000 in 1968 to 200 in 2000, according to a 2002 report of the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Thus, voluntary guidelines have virtually eliminated sand as an occupational health hazard. They have also eliminated the need for this complex regulatory program.
As described below, the major problems of this regulation are that it affects many different operations of a business-all of which are costly to business owners. Measurements of air quality are required, health screenings of employees are mandatory, daily cleaning of work areas are required and excessive owner time will be needed to understand this new health and safety program.
In the analysis below, silica-related regulatory costs are divided into labor costs, capital costs, and operations and maintenance costs (Section II). Section III describes the results of the model simulation, and Section IV contains a summary and conclusion.