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OSHA just faces a hard row to hoe in implementing silica standards or anything else. The reality is that OSHA has been battered between the political winds ever since its founding. Only during the Carter years was OSHA really empowered for making widespread change. The agency was created just before corporations began organizing themselves to more effectively fight the new regulatory regime Americans had demanded be place on them during the 1960s and 1970s. By the time it was up and running, business was already targeting it. Reagan slashed the budget and the agency has never recovered. Between the political problems and the difficulty of getting the science right in figuring out how to create new workplace safety standards, new programs to help workers stay alive move at a glacial pace if they move at all. We’ll see if Obama’s OSHA gets a silica standard through. It hasn’t even tried to recreate the ergonomics standard of the Clinton years that Bush dumped.

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