Aaron K. TripplerA prolonged government shutdown could affect the rulemaking process of OSHA’s recently proposed silica rule in a number of ways, according to Aaron Trippler, Government Affairs Director for the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

Trippler notes that even before the shutdown, there was considerable concern about the proposal from a number of sectors.

Some stakeholders felt that requiring comments to be submitted within 90 days (December 11 is the comment deadline) is insufficient time, given that stakeholders must review the huge proposal and draft comments.

“Because of this concern, there is expected to be a number of stakeholders (nearly 10 already) who will request an extension of the comment deadline as well as the hearings scheduled for March 2014,” said Trippler. “OSHA has already received requests for an extension but has yet to respond.”

Trippler said industry stakeholders have also said that it will be a huge undertaking to have this very complex rule adopted before the end of the Obama Administration, particularly in light of the shutdown.

“As one individual told me, ‘you can send in all the comments you wish but if there is no one there to read them, the rulemaking is going nowhere’.”

Advocates of the rulemaking believe that OSHA should make the proposed exposure limits to silica even tougher than what is being proposed.

The bottom line?

“Most insiders believe the proposed silica rule is years away from being adopted,” said Trippler.