‘No need’ to reduce silica PEL, group tells OSHA

Washington – OSHA’s current standard on crystalline silica has “significantly improved” occupational health, and there is “no need” for the agency to reduce the permissible exposure limit, the American Foundry Society recently told White House officials.

AFS met with officials from the agency and the Office of Management and Budget on March 12 to discuss the update to OSHA's silica rule. AFS said OSHA’s expected PEL reduction from 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 50 µg/m3 would cost the foundry industry $1.5 billion a year in engineering controls – 10 times more than OSHA’s estimate, according to an AFS report (.pdf file).

The report included alternatives to OSHA’s silica proposal, including maintaining the current PEL, allowing the use of respirators to comply with the PEL, and removing additional housekeeping requirements due to a lack of dermal or ingestion exposure risk.

This was the 10th meeting OMB has hosted since its Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs began reviewing OSHA’s proposed silica rule in February 2011. An OIRA review is not supposed to last more than 90 days.

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