The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's upcoming proposals to alter federal cotton dust standards may save money for the industry, but they won't weaken protection for workers, according to a special assistant to OSHA chief Thorne G. Auchter.

OSHA officials are upset about recent news reports, including one here last week, that said Auchter was preparing to propose revisions in the standards to make them less expensive for industry.

The stories were prompted by a recent interview that Auchter granted the Winston-Salem Journal, in which Auchter said the standard now being reviewed by OSHA "may be modified to save the textile industry millions of dollars on the installation of dust limiting devices," according to Doug Clark, a special assistant to Auchter.

The interview, and stories stemming from it, have aroused concerns among the Brown Lung Association and labor groups about what OSHA is doing to the 1978 standard, Clark said.

"One possibility coming out of our new proposed standard could be that the health of workers could be maintained by cost-effective measures that could result in the savings of money for the textile industry," Clark said. But he said that protection of workers will not be weakened.