Events and News

AFS Announces Co-Chairs for Silica Task Force

September 10, 2013

The American Foundry Society’s (AFS) Executive Vice President, Jerry Call, announced today that Chris Norch, president, Denison Industries, and Tom Slavin, formerly of Navistar and chairman, AFS Safety and Health Committee, will formally co-chair the association’s Silica Task Force.

“We believe these two outstanding industry leaders with extensive experience working in the metalcasting industry on safety and health matters will play an instrumental role in leading the task force,” Call said.

Today’s announcement formalizes AFS’s silica working group which has been in place for five years. The task force will be directing the industry’s comments and discussions with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in response to the agency’s proposed comprehensive crystalline silica standard announced on August 23.

OSHA’s proposed rule would cut in half the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica and require a wide range of ancillary protective measures, including engineering controls, air and medical monitoring, restricted work areas, housekeeping mandates, respirator use, training and recordkeeping. The metalcasting industry is one of the general industry sectors most affected by the new silica regulation. Independent studies have estimated costs for metalcasting industry compliance with OSHA’s proposal will exceed $1 billion per year.

“This is a very serious issue for our industry that will affect all sand casters throughout the United States. It is critical we have our voice heard on the matter,” said Matt Sullivan, president of Buck Co. Inc., a ferrous and nonferrous casting facility in Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, Sullivan appeared, along with Slavin, before the Office of Management and Budget to discuss the economic and technological impact of meeting lower PEL.

The AFS Silica Task Force will have its first formal meeting the week of September 16 to review the major elements of the proposal and its impact on the industry. In the following weeks, the Task Force will be developing comments in conjunction with the AFS Safety and Health Committee, AFS’s outside consultants, and the ACC Crystalline Silica Panel, of which AFS is a longstanding member.

“AFS has kept itself closely apprised of the status of the proposed silica rule and its potential effects to the industry,” Norch said. “This diligent work will continue as we develop our response to the recently announced rule.”
OSHA has provided just 90 days to submit comments on the rule, followed by public hearings in March 2014. A final rule is not expected until 2016.

In the meantime, AFS has launched a new Silica Resource page on its website at www.afsinc.org/silica to provide numerous resources including:

  • AFS guides to complying with OSHA’s current silica standard.
  • Best practices.
  • OSHA enforcement initiatives.
  • Links to the new silica proposal and accompanying documents.

For more information contact: Alfred Spada, AFS Director of Marketing, PR and Communications at aspada@afsinc.org or 847/824-0181.