OSHA's Cotton Dust Standard

OSHA's Cotton Dust Standard

The standard greatly restricts the amount of cotton dust allowable in a facility. It requires employers to modernize much of their plant equipment, including installing advanced ventilation systems and instituting new work practices, such as floor sweeping procedures. Industry had four years to comply and, in the meantime, they had to supply their workers with respirators. It did force some of the older plants to close down, because their antiquated equipment was the dustiest. These plants likely would have been forced to close in the modernization drive, a result of heightened international competition from developing nations.

Cry Wolf Quotes

[Only one percent of cotton workers] have a reaction to cotton dust. The problem is grossly exaggerated. There has not been a known death from byssinosis. There are no autopsy findings that prove the existence of byssinosis in an individual. There are subjective symptoms which the patients express that sometimes result from bronchitis, emphysema or excessive smoking.

F. Sadler Love, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, The Washington Post.

We are particularly intrigued by the term byssinosis a thing thought up by venal doctors who attended last year’s ILO [International Labor Organization] meetings in Africa, where inferior races are bound to be afflicted by new diseases more superior people defeated years ago...As a matter of fact, we referred to the ‘cotton fever’ earlier, when we pointed out that a good chaw of B.L. dark would take care of it, or some snuff...Well, we want to tell Mr. [James] O’Hara [D-MI] that, and for all our life, we have hated federal interference in our lives businesses…Congressman O’Hara is typical of the lousy representation we get from time-serving Northern Democrats who sell their souls to the venal labor leaders.

Unsigned editorial in America’s Textile Reporter, a trade publication.

On Friday, June 23, the world ended for some U.S. textile firms.

Textile World, July, 1978.

Nobody has proven cotton dust is a source of disease….In forty years, we’ve not had one single employee…disabled because of a respiratory problem.

William Pitts owner of the 80 year old Hermitage Mills, located in Camden South Carolina.


Backgrounders & Briefs

Gauging Control Technology and Regulatory Impacts in Occupational Safety and Health

Information on multiple OSHA regulations and their costs. In almost every case, the regulations were far cheaper than the agency estimated.