'Inside the TCMA' featured Article
AFS Developing Comments on OSHA’s
Proposed Crystalline Silica Rulemaking -
Still Time to Provide Critical Input to AFS
   Stephanie Salmon  |  December 7, 2013

As you know by now, in September 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a proposed crystalline silica rulemaking that would reduce the current Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) by one-half and would establish a first-ever Action Level for silica exposure at 25 mg/cu.m.

To meet the reduced PEL, the proposed rule would mandate foundries implement engineering controls and work practice controls, including exposure assessments and monitoring, establishment of regulated areas or controlled access areas, respiratory protection programs, employee training and information, and medical surveillance. Information, training and recordkeeping requirements would also be required. Employers would not be permitted to rely on respirators except to the extent that the employer shows that engineering and work practice controls are infeasible. Employee rotation as a control method would be prohibited.

Bottom line – OSHA’s proposed standard will impact the majority of the facilities in the foundry industry.

Over the past few months, AFS has addressed the rulemaking by:

  Educating the Foundry Industry about OSHA’s Proposed Silica Rule - AFS has continued to provide updates to the members, as well as hosting a webinar, and creating a Silica Resource Page on the AFS Web Site.
Establishing Working Groups to Develop Comments - AFS has established several working groups to help craft our formal comments which are due to OSHA on January 27, 2014. These groups have been meeting via conference call on a regular basis. In fact, a number of TCMA members have been actively participating in these meetings.
Requesting 90 Day Comment Extension – AFS submitted a request on October 1 to lengthen the time to respond to the proposed rule given the length and complexity of the proposal. At the end of October,OSHA granted a 47-day extension, with comments now due on January 27, 2014 - just a few short months away.
Hiring Economic/Technological Feasibility Experts and Law Firm - In addition, AFS is a member of the American Chemistry Council’s Crystalline Silica Panel which is coordinating an industry response to OSHA’s proposed silica rule as well. The Coalition has retained a number of consultants, including a firm to conduct a technological and economic feasibility study of OSHA’s proposed rule. The foundry industry, along with four additional industries, will be a focal sector for the feasibility study.
Outreach on Capitol Hill – over the past few months, AFS Washington office has met with a number of congressional offices to outline the impact the silica rule will have on our industry.
Developing AFS Silica Survey - In addition, AFS has developed a survey that requests very important information about your foundry. Over 60 foundries have filled out the survey and the association is still seeking additional participation. One key area we are seeking input on deals with the cost of complying with their new proposal. We believe OSHA has significantly underestimated the compliance costs. We need hard data to show the true costs of the rulemaking. There is still time to fill out the Silica Survey – here is the link to the survey - http://www.afsinc.org/files/Foundry%20Silica%20Survey%20-%20October%202013.pdf. We encourage you to complete the survey to the best of your ability; if you cannot answer all of the questions, do not let that keep you from providing as much information as you can.

Additionally, if your foundry has taken action to reduce crystalline silica exposure such as new ventilation, new shot blast equipment, sand delivery system alteration, etc. AFS needs information concerning how much your project(s) cost your foundry, what level of success did you achieve, and could your foundry meet the proposed reduced PEL.

Please fax your response to Fred Kohloff, AFS EHS Department, at 847/824-7848 or email it to fhk@afsinc.org. All responses received from the survey and subsequent correspondence will remain confidential. If you have any questions regarding this update, contact Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Office, at 571/242-0186 or ssalmon@afsinc.org