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OSHA denies request to delay enforcement of silica rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) denied a request by the American Foundry Society (AFS) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to delay enforcement of its crystalline silica rule for 180 days. According to an agency press release issued on Friday, June 8, enforcement of the rule is scheduled to start June 23, and during the first 30 days, OSHA will offer compliance assistance to those facilities that have shown good faith effort to work to comply with the new standard. This essentially means that for the first 30 days, OSHA will have soft enforcement.  

The formal request for a six-month delay was outlined in a letter to Loren Sweatt, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, on May 16, which said in part, “While our members are working in good faith to attempt to comply with the rule by the current compliance deadline, they are experiencing significant challenges in doing so. A short delay in enforcement will also allow the Agency to develop and distribute compliance assistance material to help employers in attaining full compliance.” In addition, at the end of May, members of Congress from both chambers sent letters to OSHA urging the agency to provide additional time for general industry to comply with the new silica standard. The letters were sent by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), along with eight additional senators. The House letter was led by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), along with 64 other lawmakers.

Doug Kurkul, CEO of AFS, said, “We are disappointed that OSHA would not extend the enforcement deadline, as a delay would have been a sensible and reasonable way to assist general industry employers, particularly metalcasters -- especially those small to mid-sized foundries that provide critical jobs in communities across the nation -- to have additional time to work towards compliance on this complicated and challenging rulemaking.”

According to the announcement, OSHA plans to issue an interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive on the new standards is finalized.  A copy of OSHA’s press release is available at https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/06082018

In the meantime, AFS will continue to work in good faith on a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that have been developed with the agency to provide additional clarification on portions of the rulemaking. AFS will be hosting a silica webinar, “Countdown to Compliance Under OSHA's Final Silica rule” on Tuesday, June 19 at 1 p.m. CT, where key compliance issues facing the foundry industry will be discussed and an update on the progress and overview of the silica FAQs directed towards foundry operations will be provided. To register, click here.

To learn more about the silica rule and its requirements, visit the AFS Crystalline Silica Resource Page at www.afsinc.org/silica.