Events and News

AFS Urges Every Corporate Member to Take Action on OSHA Silica Rule Now

August 23, 2017

After weeks of discussion with the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) staff, the government informed the American Foundry Society, the National Association of Manufacturers and a coalition of construction associations that it is not willing to:

a) Reopen the record and fix critical portions of OSHA’s ill-advised crystalline silica rule.

b) Ask the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the litigation while they reopen the record and work out potential flexible fixes to the rule.

DOL instead stated it would prefer to go to court on Sept. 26. Hence, the lawsuit against OSHA filed by AFS and others will proceed.

Devastating Impact on U.S. Foundries and Manufacturing Employment

If the silica rule is not changed, many small and mid-size foundries in numerous states will go bankrupt and/or close, leaving many employees out of work. Some larger foundries will simply shift production to Asia, India, Europe, and other locales they perceive to have a better business climate than the United States.

Enforcement is slated to begin in June 2018 for general industry. To attempt to comply with this one-size-fits-all rule, many small and mid-size foundries are working with outside experts and receiving cost estimates for much more than $1 million for the installation of engineering controls, without any assurance these controls will actually help the foundries meet the new lower PEL (permissible exposure level).

AFS Corporate Members are urged to communicate now with:

  • DOL Deputy Solicitor Nick Geale – geale@nmb.gov
  • The Honorable President Donald Trump – zina.g.bash@who.eop.gov
    Zina Bash, Special Assistant to the President, Regulatory Reform & Legal
  • The Honorable Vice President Pence – zachary.c.bauer@ovp.eop.gov
    Zachary Bauer, Special Assistant to the Vice President
  • Your U.S. Senators – email the Legislative Director
  • Your U.S. Representative – email the Legislative Director

Call your respective lawmakers offices to obtain email addresses or contact the AFS Washington Office. Please send a copy of your correspondence to ssalmon@afsinc.org.

Letters can make the six following points:

  • My company disapproves of DOL’s decision not to reopen the record on the silica rule and stay the litigation. It is our sincere hope that the Secretary of Labor and the Department will take a closer look at the grave impacts of this regulation and reconsider this decision immediately.
  • U.S. national defense and the manufacturing economy depend on a vibrant foundry industry.
  • OSHA’s rule is technologically and economically infeasible for foundries to meet. The cost of attempting to comply would cost 276 percent of industry profits, with no certainty of compliance.
  • The certain result of the rule will be foundry closures, casting work being shifted overseas, and many thousands of Americans losing good manufacturing jobs.
  • The engineering and work-practice controls mandated by the rule represent an outdated and ineffective regulatory approach favored by the Obama Administration.
  • OSHA ignored ample evidence when it drastically underestimated compliance costs at only $32,000 annually.
  • New, highly relevant data is now available that casts further doubt on the rule’s feasibility.

Further Information

Metal castings are integral to virtually all U.S. manufacturing activities. The industry is composed of about 1,950 facilities, making castings made from iron, steel, and aluminum alloys for thousands of applications.

Metalcasters are key suppliers to the defense, automotive, construction, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, rail, transportation, and other sectors – the backbone of the manufacturing supply chain.

The U.S. metalcasting industry provides employment for tens of thousands of men and women in all 50 states and supports thousands of other jobs indirectly. Metalcasters are predominately small businesses, with 80 percent having fewer than 100 employees. Our energy-intensive, trade-exposed industry supports a payroll of more than $9 billion and sales of more than $30 billion annually.

Since taking office, President Trump has followed through on his campaign promises to have the various federal agencies undertake an in-depth review of unworkable, burdensome regulations. We had hoped that similar efforts would be taken with respect to this rule. Yet, the agency is currently following a policy on OSHA’s silica rule no different from the Obama Administration’s scientifically unsound and infeasible approach.

It is important for all AFS Corporate Members to make their voices heard at this vital juncture.

For further information, contact Stephanie Salmon, American Foundry Society, Washington Office, 202/452-7134 or ssalmon@afsinc.org