While stainless steel does not itself include hexavalent chrome, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) believes that it may be generated by welding, or in some cases, grinding. OSHA has not provided any specific information on whether or not it believes that welding would generate levels of hexavalent chrome that exceed the action or the permissible exposure levels, leaving it up to individual employers to make these determinations.
With recent action by the House Committee on Judiciary, Congress is finally moving ahead with action to prevent states from imposing “business activity taxes” on firms that make sales in their states but have no office or other physical presence.
Under a standard published in February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has sharply reduced the permissible level (PEL) for workplace exposure to hexavalent chrome from 52 to 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air, measured on an eight hour time-weighted average. While OSHA has provided no data on likely levels of exposure, the agency believes that stainless steel welding can generate hexavalent chrome, and OSHA inspectors are likely to expect at least initial air monitoring by the compliance date of November 27, 2006. (Firms with fewer than 20 employees have until May 30, 2007.)
NAFEM and the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), of which NAFEM is a founding member, celebrated a long-awaited victory February 1 when the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Byrd Amendment. The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2002, known as the Byrd Amendment, re-routes duties collected by the U.S. government from anti-dumping or counter-vailing duties on imported products to the firms that brought the trade cases.
The fate of legislation to repeal the Byrd Amendment (see adjoining story) was uncertain as this issue of NAFEM in print went to press. The Ways & Means Committee of the House of Representatives (where tax, trade and most spending bills must be approved) voted on October 26 to include repeal of the Byrd Amendment in a much larger bill, the Deficit Reduction Act, needed to fun federal programs for the next fiscal year. The full House of Representatives then, on November 18, passed this bill 217-215. Byrd repeal was one, but not the most critical of issues which made the bill controversial.
NAFEM has joined a work group of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Health Policy Committee that is studying options for changes in federal policy that could reduce the costs of health insurance, particularly for small and medium-sized manufacturers.
The “American Jobs Creation Act of 2004,” signed by President Bush shortly before the election has significant benefits for NAFEM members and their customers.
Toward the second half of 2004, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will implement a review of “anti-dumping” duties on stainless steel implemented in 1999. Such a review occurs automatically five years after anti-dumping duties are implemented, and is intended to determine if changed circumstances warrant discontinuing the tariffs.