Bloomberg Government: House Committee Urging Small Businesses To Comment on Silica, Reporting Proposals

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Washington, January 22, 2014 | comments

(BNA) House Republicans said they are eyeing Occupational Safety and Health Administration rulemakings on silica exposure and electronic recordkeeping and urging small business owners to submit comments to the agency's docket.

The Jan. 10 fact sheet issued by the House Small Business Committee gives a clear signal of Republicans' intent to keep pushing back against President Barack Obama's regulatory ambitions through the remainder of the 113th Congress.

OSHA's proposed silica rule would set a permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air, as opposed to the current limits of 100 micrograms for general industry and 250 for construction and shipyards (43 OSHR 865, 9/12/13).

The fact sheet noted that, according to OSHA, the rule will affect some 470,000 small businesses or government entities and cost $637 million annually.

OSHA chief David Michaels told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 8 that the silica rule is the agency's top regulatory focus. OSHA is likely to spend all of 2014 analyzing data gathered from stakeholders at a series of hearings starting March 18, Michaels said.

Electronic Report Rule Also Flagged

The committee also is encouraging employers to comment on OSHA's electronic reporting proposal for workplace injuries and illnesses.

That proposal would require establishments with 250 or more workers to submit annually to OSHA their Form 300As electronically, and also to submit injury and illness case information from Forms 300 and 301 every quarter (43 OSHR 1087, 11/14/13).

Comments on the silica rule are due Jan. 27, and on the reporting rule March 8.

The costs of regulatory compliance are 36 percent higher for small businesses than for large businesses for all federal regulations, the committee said.

“With roughly 41,000 new regulations in the pipeline, it should come as no surprise that government regulations and red tape consistently rank as top concerns of small business owners,” according to the fact sheet.

In a Jan. 10 statement, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the committee, said the committee will remain focused on regulations in 2014. In 2013, the committee held 51 oversight hearings and roundtables including 40 federal agencies, Graves said.

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