Events and News

Joint Opening Brief Filed on OSHA Silica Rulemaking

November 22, 2016

On Friday, November 18, 2016, AFS, along with the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Association of Home Builders and other constructions groups, the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, Portland Cement, National Concrete Masonry Association and Brick Industry, filed a joint industry opening brief to oppose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) crystalline silica rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. 

The OSHA silica rule, issued in March, cuts the current permissible exposure limit for silica in half and requires companies to implement costly engineering controls and a host of ancillary provisions, which will severely burden the metalcasting, construction and fracking sectors.

The focus of the case centers on how OSHA has not justified how complying with the exposure limit is technologically and economically feasible especially for small and medium-size businesses.  Th brief also highlights how OSHA’s findings are not supported by substantial evidence and how the agency failed to consider the best available evidence, and how the rule will place undue burdens and irreparable harm on the various impacted sectors. The implementation date of this silica rule for general industry is June 2018, and we hope to have a decision from the court by fall of 2017.  The court has not yet announced the date for oral arguments, but the legal arguments are expected to take place in the summer of 2017. 

“We remain deeply concerned about the misguided assumptions and cost and impact errors that OSHA has relied upon in creating this rule, and AFS looks forward to discussing the significant burden this new regulation will place on the foundry industry in its current form with the new Trump administration,” said AFS Government Affairs Chairman Brad Muller. 

The Trump administration could delay the implementation dates of the rulemaking and/or re-open the rule-making process for the standard and revise it as part of a lengthy process.  A new administration has a brief period following the inauguration during which rules issued toward the end of the previous administration are eligible for disapproval by a majority vote of the House and Senate. The law, known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA), will only affect regulations that were issued after May 30. At this time, the CRA cannot be used to overturn the OSHA silica standard since the rule was issued in March, prior to the cut-off date.