The U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is extending the comment period for its proposed rule on exposure to crystalline silica in the workplace. The proposed rule was introduced in late August, with the stated goal of lowering workers’ health risks.

Silica, or silicon dioxide, is frequently found in manufacturing operations, notably foundries where sand is in use, but also in glassmaking and sand blasting. It’s also found in construction operations where cutting, sawing, drilling and crushing of concrete, brick, block or other stone products takes place.

“Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential,” stated assistant secretary of labor Dr. David Michaels in August. “Every year, exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis—an incurable and progressive disease—as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases and kidney disease. We’re looking forward to public comment on the proposal.”

OSHA can set workplace standards on its own initiative, or in response to petitions from other parties, including the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), state and local governments or other recognized standards-producing organization, employer or labor representatives, or any other interested person.

Once it proposes a new rule, the public is invited to submit comments on the proposal prior to enactment.