Federal agencies Silica

Small manufacturers weigh in on the effect of OSHA regs

Washington – Stringent regulations from agencies such as OSHA could increase employer costs without improving safety, employers testified March 18 during a hearing before the House Small Business Committee.

The hearing, titled Tangled in Red Tape: New Challenges for Small Manufacturers, focused on the challenges that small businesses face in light of new and expanded government regulations. Small-business representatives described safety as a priority but said regulations such as OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard require many thousands of documents per year without bolstering safety.

OSHA’s proposed rulemaking on crystalline silica also drew criticism. The proposed rule aims to limit workers’ exposure to harmful silica, but critics claim it is too burdensome.

“Not only will this require most foundries to spend an estimated million dollars on additional dust collection systems, but there is no guarantee that this standard can even be met,” said PRL Inc. CEO Janis Herschkowitz, who testified on behalf of the Schaumburg, IL-based American Foundry Society.

Proponents argued that saving lives outweighs any up-front costs. OSHA estimates that its proposed rule will save up to 700 lives and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis every year.