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Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Office; Jeff Hannapel & Christian Richter, The Policy Group, Washington, D.C. WASHINGTON ALERT


Joint Opening Brief Filed on OSHA Silica Rulemaking


THE RULE CUTS THE CURRENT PERMISSIBLE EXPOSURE LIMIT FOR SILICA IN HALF AND REQUIRES COMPANIES TO IMPLEMENT COSTLY ENGINEERING CONTROLS AND A HOST OF ANCILLARY PROVISIONS.


On Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, AFS,


along with the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Associa- tion of Home Builders and other con- structions groups, the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, Portland Cement, National Concrete Masonry Association and Brick Industry, filed a joint industry opening brief to oppose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) crystalline silica rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Te OSHA silica rule, issued in


March, cuts the current permissible exposure limit for silica in half and requires companies to implement costly


ON THE HILL


DOL’s Overtime Rule Blocked Nationwide by Judge


On Nov. 22, 2016, a Texas federal judge issued a nationwide injunction blocking the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing its new federal overtime rule which was set to take effect Dec. 1. About 4 million workers would have become eligible for overtime pay under the rule which would have doubled the Fair Labor Standards Act’s salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,892 a year for full-time executive, adminis- trative and professional workers. U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant said in his ruling that by requiring employers to pay overtime wages based on salary rather than an employee’s duties, the Labor Depart- ment exceeded its authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act and ignored Congress’s intent.


Although the injunction is only


temporary, the judge’s decision signaled a strong likelihood that he’ll eventually side with over 20 state attorneys gen- eral and a coalition of business groups that sued to block the regulation. In addition, the Labor Department can


appeal the ruling, but the incoming Trump administration subsequently could drop any appeal.


Persuader Rule Requiring Firms to Disclose Labor Advice Blocked


On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas is- sued a permanent injunction against the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) per- suader rule in the case brought by several business organizations. In his decision to block the rule, the judge wrote the plaintiffs had demonstrated the rule will “cause irreparable harms” by “reducing access to full, complete, unconflicted legal advice;” “reducing access to training, seminars, information, and other advice relating to unionization campaigns;” and “burdening and chilling First Amendment rights.” The rule, which took effect in April, made significant changes to the reporting and disclosure requirements for employ- ers, attorneys, and other experts under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. It would have effectively made all interactions between employers and their labor counsel reportable, limiting employer access to counsel and therefore


making it easier for employers to violate labor laws.


Rule Updating Walking-Working Surfaces Standard Issued


On Nov. 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its long-awaited final rule update to the general industry walking- working surfaces standard specific to slip, trip and fall hazards. The final rule, scheduled to go into effect Jan. 17, also increases consistency between general and construction industries, and includes a section that establishes em- ployer requirements for using personal fall protection systems. The agency has allowed the use of personal fall protec- tion systems in construction since 1994. The rule allows employers to use rope descent systems up to 300 feet above a lower level; prohibit the use of body belts as part of a personal fall ar- rest system; and require worker training on personal fall protection systems and other equipment designed for falls.


For additional information, contact Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Off ice,


202/842-4864, ssalmon@afsinc.org. December 2016 MODERN CASTING | 17


engineering controls and a host of ancillary provisions, which will severely burden various sectors. Te case centers on how OSHA has not justified how complying with the exposure limit is technologically and economically feasible especially for small and medium-size businesses. Te brief also argues OSHA’s find-


ings are not supported by substantial evidence, the agency failed to consider the best available evidence, and the rule will place undue burdens and ir- reparable harm on the various impact- ed sectors. Te implementation date of this silica rule for general industry is June 2018, and a decision from the


court is expected by the fall of 2017. Te court has not yet announced the date for oral arguments. Te Trump administration could


delay the implementation dates of the rulemaking and/or re-open the rule- making process for the standard and revise it as part of a lengthy process. A new administration has a brief period following the inauguration during which rules issued toward the end of the previous administration are eligible for disapproval by a majority vote of the House and Senate. Te law, known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA), will only affect regulations that were issued after May 30.


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