SW Legal studies in Business

OSHA's Interpretation of a Regulation Upheld
Description Appeals court held that OSHA's interpretation of a regulation requiring that workers to be protected from breathing silica dust was upheld when challenged by an employer who contended that another method of measuring silica dust should be used. The measurement method used by OSHA was reasonable and will be accorded deference.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Regulation; Interpretation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Ohio Cast Products was cited by OSHA for overexposing a worker to silica in the atmosphere at the work station. Ohio Cast agreed that the air sample taken at the work station was accurate, but the company contended that OSHA's interpretation of the law requiring workers to be protected from breathing too much silica was not reasonable. OSHA measured all dust, including silica, that workers were exposed to; Ohio Cast contended that only silica should have been measured, not other dusts in the atmosphere, therefore OSHA's interpretation of the law was not reasonable. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission upheld the citation and $8,000 fine; Ohio Cast appealed.
Decision Affirmed. An administrative agency's interpretation of its own regulations is entitled to substantial deference. The law required OSHA to limit worker exposure to silica. The formula OSHA used to measure silica and other dusts in the atmosphere had been used by the agency in a consistent manner for over 25 years. A formula that balanced silica against other dusts was carefully drafted and used consistently. The fact that there is more than one way to measure such a problem does not mean that multiple methods must be used. Furthermore, the company had known how OSHA measured silica dust for a long time, so there was adequate notice.
Citation Ohio Case Products, Inc. v. Occupational Safety & Health Review Comm., 246 F.3d 791 (6th Cir., 2001)

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