OSHA Extends Beryllium Compliance Dates for Certain General Industry Ancillary Provisions
More updates to OSHA’s beryllium standard are forthcoming. Read on to learn more.
The 2017 Final Rule created new, lower permissible exposure limits (PELs) for beryllium and beryllium compounds; issued three separate beryllium exposure standards for general industry, shipyards, and construction workplaces; and defined a “Beryllium Work Area” to include work areas where employees may be exposed to skin contact with airborne beryllium.
Timeline: OSHA’s New Beryllium Worker Protections (2017-Present)
Initially set to take effect in March 2017, the rule was adjusted and enforcement delayed in spring 2017. Enforcement was later delayed again until August 9, 2018.
During this time, OSHA reached a settlement agreement with industry groups concerning the beryllium rule. The settlement required OSHA to publish a Direct Final Rule to clarify some elements of the beryllium rulemaking and propose a second rulemaking to further revise the standard.
In May 2018, OSHA published the Direct Final Rule to make clarifying amendments to the 2017 rule. While OSHA did not change the lowered exposure limits, the Agency did update definitions within the rule for terms including “Beryllium Work Area,” “emergency,” “dermal contact,” and “beryllium contamination” as they apply to general industry facilities.
The delay of the enforcement date of the ancillary provisions until December is intended in part to give OSHA enough time to complete the second proposed rule required by the settlement agreement. The second proposal will make further updates to the beryllium protection standard as outlined in Appendix B of the settlement agreement, available in PDF format here.
What Is Beryllium and Why Is It Hazardous?
Beryllium (Be) is a periodic element that’s rare in nature. Its light weight and stiffness make it useful in a variety of industries, namely aerospace, nuclear energy, and manufacturing. It’s also frequently found in aluminum, copper, iron, and nickel alloys.
Beryllium is a known carcinogen and can cause chronic and fatal lung diseases, like chronic beryllium disease (berylliosis), pneumonitis, and others. While the former Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for beryllium was already the lowest for any metal, industry groups have long advocated for lowering it by up to 90%, a step OSHA took with its January 2017 Final Rule.
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