Industry Eyes Changing Tides in Washington

Regulatory reform, tax reform, trade, silica and infrastructure are

priority legislative issues for the U.S. metalcasting industry this year. A MODERN CASTING STAFF REPORT


he current presiden- tial administration and Congress both profess to be pro-business with

an agenda to change policy in terms of regulation, trade and taxes, which could impact the U.S. metalcasting supply chain. President Trump’s Executive Order

13777 requires federal agencies to establish task forces to review existing regulations to identify those that may be unnecessary, negatively impact jobs or are not justified on a cast-benefit basis. Metalcasting industry advocate AFS submitted comments for the task forces highlighting the regulatory bur- den on U.S. foundries, with recommen- dations for program modifications and solutions. In May, the Senate Home- land Security and Government Affairs Committee approved a series of bills to reform the regulatory process. Another executive order, dubbed “Buy

American, Hire American,” is intended to assess procurement rules and remove loopholes that give foreign products an advantage over American ones. Te administration’s interest in

reevaluating established trade agree- ments might also impact U.S. met- alcasters. In April, the administration announced it was launching investiga-

tions into whether steel and alumi- num imports should be restricted on national security grounds. One piece of federal action of

perhaps most interest to metalcasters— the OSHA silica rule—at this point remains unchanged, with foundries having until June 23, 2018, to come into compliance with the new standard. In June, members of the metalcast-

ing supply chain gathered in the Capi- tol for a day of face to face meetings with legislators to ask for support in a few key issues that could have a lasting effect on their businesses. For more information on the AFS Government Affairs Fly-In and other ways to reach out to lawmakers, see the sidebar on page 29.


OSHA’s Crystalline Silica Rule On March 25, 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published its final comprehensive and compli- cated new regulatory structure for the control of crystalline respirable silica. It sharply reduces the existing permis- sible exposure limit (PEL) in half to 50 micrograms of crystalline silica per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) from the

current 100. Metalcasting facilities would be required to implement a series of protective measures, develop a written exposure control plan, and limit access to high exposure areas that are not required under OSHA’s exist- ing standards Nearly 70% of the U.S. foundry

industry will be impacted by this rule. OSHA has determined that a rule is needed to substantially reduce the risk of serious disease from exposure to airborne concentrations of silica dust. Tis runs contrary to data from the Centers for Disease Control that show a sharp decline in the incidences of silicosis in recent decades. Te sharply reduced PEL pres-

ents enormous feasibility challenges. Foundries will have to exhaust all feasible engineering and work practice controls to meet the new reduced PEL. Several recent estimates have shown costs to update and install new ventilation systems will run over $1.5 million and doesn’t include costs asso- ciated with the ancillary provisions. Te new rule from OSHA does

not favor respirators and clean filtered air helmets, and instead pushes for its “hierarchy of control” policy. Facilities will only be able to provide respiratory protection after proving all the available

July 2017 MODERN CASTING | 19

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