The business community is not the only stakeholder concerned about the short 90-day deadline to comment on OSHA’s proposed silica rule. Just yesterday, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy sent a letter recommending OSHA extend the public comment period on the silica rule by 90 days. The recommendations mirror the NAM’s, as well as others in the business community, request several weeks ago. The NAM request was reported on shortly after it was filed and was viewed as a stalling tactic by some in the labor community – a bold accusation considering the agency dumped 1400 pages of economic analysis on the public that’s incomplete, muddled and downright delusional. The one office within the Administration that’s charged with protecting and advocating for small business agrees with the NAM position that there ought to be more time to consider the ramifications of the proposed rule.
The Administration has considered this proposal for ten years, beginning in 2003 with a small business panel review. It therefore, borders on the ridiculous to give all stakeholders, and especially small business entities, a mere 90 days to meaningfully comment on the hundreds upon hundreds of pages of information that was finally unleashed a month ago. The rule was held up by the Administration itself at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs before any business groups or the public were allowed to see it. Does OSHA want to receive meaningful and robust comments, or is it simply trying to achieve something – anything? The silica rule is complex and has far-reaching effects up and down the supply chain. It will increase costs of raw materials, production and consumption. At least one office within the federal government thinks that’s worth having a serious look at before marching headlong into yet another debacle.