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Freedom Fridays

August 11, 2017 - Ending the War on Dust


Overturning OSHA's Burdensome Silica Restrictions


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What does this regulation do?

In 2016, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reduced the amount of dust (specifically, crystalline silica) that employees can be exposed to during their 8 hour shift in particular industries. Silica can be found in basic construction materials, such as concrete, brick, and stone.


Why is this a problem?

Many employers have found compliance with this rule to be both economically infeasible and technologically unrealistic. While OSHA’s estimate for implementation is $511 million annually, the industry estimate is closer to $5 billion. Federal bureaucrats who are not accountable to a constituency are once again forcing industries to follow their version of best practices completely outside the purview of Congress.


How can we solve this problem?

President Trump has taken action to repeal or delay many Obama-era regulations that have a negative effect on our economy. He and Secretary of Labor Anthony Acosta should consider permanently delaying this rule until the technology is widely available at an affordable price.

Although this rule can be repealed administratively, Congress also has tools at its disposal. When the House of Representatives considers a bill to fund the Department of Labor, I will offer an amendment to prohibit federal funding from being used to implement and enforce this rule.

Lastly, Congress should pass H.R.26, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, of which I am a cosponsor. This bill would increase accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations. This bill passed the House of Representatives and currently awaits consideration in the Senate. I will continue to look for other options in Congress to repeal this burdensome regulation.


What are they saying?

“New regulations deemed necessary should be based on sound scientific principles lest the regulations spur unintended, negative consequences. For example, The National Stone Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) and Arizona Rock Products Association (ARPA) support science-based regulations that limit workplace exposures to potentially hazardous substances, including respirable crystalline silica. However, OSHA’s final crystalline silica rule focuses on lowering rather than enforcing the current, protective limit, even though many commercial labs do not provide consistently accurate results when analyzing air samples at OSHA’s new limits. The Mine Safety and Health Administration is likely to issue a similar standard. These actions, with no benefit to miners, will decrease employment opportunities as operating costs increase.” - Steve Trussell, Executive Director of Arizona Rock Products Association

“The compliance of this rule will be extremely burdensome on the construction industry for several reasons including investment in new equipment, investment and tracking of training, possible air monitoring but most importantly for the medical surveillance portion of the rule. The rule requires employers to keep medical records for 30 years, which is not realistic given the lifespan of companies and the transient nature of employees in the construction industry. While we always take our employees’ safety as a priority, this rule does not appear to be warranted given the fact that the CDC has reported a 93% drop in silica related deaths. Furthermore, this rule is being imposed on the construction industry without OSHA meeting its burden to demonstrate that the rule is technologically and economically feasible. Our company has already spent countless hours as well as a significant investment in equipment towards being compliant by September 23rd. Both of these investments will only continue and grow as we move forward which is increasing our project and overhead costs. This rule should be re-opened to allow for more input from the construction industry regarding tasks that generate silica, methods to mitigate the exposure and a more feasible way to comply with the medical portion of the rule.” – Melonie Leslie, G & G Enterprises, Glendale, AZ

When promulgating regulations, federal bureaucrats frequently under estimate or disregard the cost of implementing the rule. The size and complexity of this specific rule, coupled with the fact that large pieces have yet to be defined, have made it an implementation nightmare. The Trump Administration should seek direct input from affected industries and businesses to negotiate a rule that will be feasible to implement while also protecting industry employees.” – Mike Sutter, President of Sutter Masonry, Inc., El Mirage, AZ; Chairman, Masonry Contractors Association of America