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Bad Rules Can Cost Money Even Before Being Implemented

June 11, 2018 in Economics

By Ike Brannon

Ike Brannon

Beryllium is not exactly the sexiest of the elements, but I feel
compelled to write about it just the same.

While it is relatively rare in the universe and has only a few
useful applications, it does happen to be incredibly useful in
those applications. For instance, because it is so light (its
atomic number is 4) and forms a strong alloy with other metals, it
is essential in the construction of satellites and spaceships.

It turns out the the metal is also harmful to humans should they
ingest it. For nearly all of us that is not remotely possible, but
for some people who work in the industries and occupations that
produce or use beryllium, especially those that do abrasive
blasting work, exposure can be a concern.

As it happens, workers in such industries also face potential
exposure from other possible contaminants as well, a reality that
some time ago led to OSHA to require that that companies take
multiple steps to protect these workers in some way.

When Washington imposes
confusing, unnecessary and burdensome regulations there are always
unanticipated winners and losers that go beyond mere compliance
costs.

Abrasive blasting is already subject to over two dozen OSHA
rules governing worker safety, including preventative measures to
avoid undue exposure to airborne chemicals. As a result, illnesses
from exposure to beryllium in these industries have been all but
nonexistent in the U.S.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration several years
considering whether to reduce the already-low exposure standards
for beryllium. It had preliminarily decided to exempt abrasive
manufacturers, since it did not appear that new regulations would
not result in any discernible safety improvements, but its final
regulation, issued in the waning days of the Obama Administration,
contained no such exemption.

I

argued at the time
that this last-minute increase in the
rule’s scope made no sense at all; it was done without public input
on those changes to the rule, it was unnecessarily intrusive on an
industry that had no instances of beryllium-related illnesses, and
it certainly flunked any objective cost-benefit analysis.

The Trump administration agreed that the haste with which OSHA
made those last minute changes was unwarranted, and in March 2017
it announced a delay of the rule to give it time to reconsider its
scope.

However, while the postponement may have allowed companies that
would have been affected by its implementation to avoid—or at
least delay—spending on costly methods to reduce beryllium
exposure, OSHA’s actions may nonetheless cost them.

Some abrasive manufacturers have begun to

seize on the proposed rule
to market their products as
“beryllium free.” The implication is that glass
abrasives …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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