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

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

Textile World, July, 1978.

[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.

[Brown lung is] an allergy. If you are exposed to cotton dust and develop any kind of respiratory problem, it can be corrected providing you have not been exposed for a very very long period.

Robert Small, President of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, America’s Textile Reporter Bulletin, August, 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.