OSHA Extends Silica Rule Comment Period

The agency has added 15 days, so comments are now due by Feb. 11, 2014. Hundreds of comments have been submitted already.

OSHA has extended the public comment period for its proposed rule on occupational exposure to crystalline silica by 15 days to Feb. 11, 2014. More than 300 comments already have been submitted, many of them requests to speak at the public hearings that will begin March 18.

More significant are the comments from industry groups saying they believe OSHA's proposed permissible exposure limit in the rule, 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, will be impossible for them to measure or achieve and far more expensive that the agency's calculations.

"Foundries will have to exhaust all feasible engineering and work practice controls to meet a new reduced PEL," wrote Brennon Holenda, quality manager for Bentonville Casting Company, a manufacturer of gray and ductile castings located in Bentonville, Ark. "Foundries could conceivably go out of business by spending millions of dollars implementing various types of engineering controls -- essentially trial and error. There are certain operations, such as grinding and knock-off/sorting that may not be able to achieve compliance no matter how much is spent on controls."

OSHA's statement said it added the 15 days because of concerns raised about possible public confusion due to an error on www.regulations.gov, the federal government's online portal for submitting rulemaking comments. To submit a comment, visit that site and search for OSHA Docket number 2010-0034.

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