WASHINGTON-A coalition of automotive aftermarket associations plans to fight a final rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration which could cause enormous increases in the cost of brake cleaning. OSHA published its final rule on limiting occupational exposure to asbestos in the Aug. 10 Federal Register, four years after issuing its proposed rule. Asbestos exposure has been identified as causing severe respiratory ailments and several forms of cancer.
In the proposed rule, the agency listed the aerosol solvent/spray method of cleaning brakes as a ``preferred'' method from the standpoint of protecting service personnel from asbestos.
The final rule, however, deletes aerosol cleaning from the preferred list. Instead, the agency strongly recommends the ``enclosure vacuum'' and ``wet cleaning'' methods-which, according to the National Brake Care Coalition, require labor-intensive equipment costing from $875 to $3,600.
Aerosol cleaning is not illegal under the proposed rule. But since aerosol cleaning is no longer a preferred method, OSHA holds it to a much stricter exposure standard than enclosure vacuums or wet cleaning-0.004 fibers per cubic centimeter of air compared to 0.1 f/cc for vacuums and wet cleaning.
The NBCC estimates this change in the regulation will cost the auto aftermarket from $400 million to $1.5 billion, based on an average of two machines per repair shop. Some 330,000 auto repairers in the U.S. will be affected, the coalition said.
NBCC members are seeking alternatives for turning back this provision in the final rule, which goes into effect Oct. 11.
There are several possible legal options, according to LuAnne Hansen of the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, a member of the coalition.
Among those options, she said, are: Petitioning OSHA for review or reconsideration of the final rule; setting up negotiations with the agency; and seeking a stay of the rule or-if the agency refuses-in federal court.