AFS Member Voices Industry’s Concerns With OSHA’s Silica Rule at House Hearing
April 20, 2016
On April 19, the House Committee on Education Workforce Protections Subcommittee held a hearing on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recently finalized crystalline silica rule and the impact it will have on the nation’s workplaces.
AFS member Janis Herschkowitz, who owns a small, second-generation metalcasting facility, Regal Cast, in Pennsylvania, testified on the hearing panel, describing the technological and economic challenges foundries will face in complying with OSHA’s immense new silica rule and highlighting the need for systemic reform of the rulemaking process.
“There is not a one-size-fits-all solution that is guaranteed to work,” Herschkowitz told committee members. “Some foundries may spend millions of dollars retrofitting and … rebuilding in order to implement the various types of engineering controls—essentially trial and error—while attempting to comply with the new standard. Foundries will have to exhaust all feasible engineering and work practice controls to meet the new reduced limits before ever being allowed to use respiratory controls.” Herschkowitz also described how the new rule was based on decades old data and how regulators had vastly underestimated the cost of the rules to metalcasting plants.
OSHA’s final rule, published in March 2015, reduces the workplace exposure limit by half (from 100 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight-hour work shift) and contains a host of other requirements.
During the formal rulemaking process, AFS presented substantial evidence that OSHA’s proposed permissible exposure limit (PEL) was technologically and economically infeasible for U.S. metalcasting businesses. In addition to the association’s legal challenge filed on April 4, AFS will continue to seek measures to improve the rule with Congress and the next presidential administration.
For more information on the silica rule and its impact on metalcasting, visit www.afsinc.org/silica.