OSHA May Revoke Some Parts of Its Beryllium Final Rule

Posted on 6/27/2017 by Roger Marks

OSHA this week proposed revoking the “ancillary provisions” for the construction and shipyard sectors adopted in a January 2017 Final Rule to revise the beryllium workplace exposure standard. OSHA will not revoke the new, lower permissible exposure limits (PELs) for beryllium and beryllium compounds.

Note that OSHA has not proposed to change any part of the Final Rule that relates to employees in general industry workplaces, only those provisions that impact the construction and shipyard sectors.

The January Final Rule lowered the PELs for beryllium and beryllium compounds to the following levels:
  • An 8-hour time-weight average (TWA) of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air (0.2 microgram/m3); and
  • A short-term, 15-minute exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air (2 micrograms/m3).
Again, OSHA has no plan to revoke or change the new, lower permissible exposure limit (PEL) or the short term exposure limit (STEL) for beryllium and beryllium compounds finalized in January.

Why Did OSHA Propose Revoking the Ancillary Provisions?

beryllium.jpgOSHA now believes the ancillary provisions in the January Final Rule—which set additional requirements for personal protective equipment (PPE), exposure assessments, exposure control methods, medical surveillance requirements, and rules for hazard communication, employee training, and recordkeeping—may be unnecessary for the construction and shipyard sectors.

As OSHA explains in its proposal, a number of existing safety standards already provide protection for employees who perform the “blasting” work that most commonly exposes workers to beryllium in the construction and shipyard sectors. OSHA makes specific reference to the ventilation standard at 29 CFR 1926.57 and the standard for mechanical paint removers at 29 CFR 1915.34.

OSHA Wants Your Comments

OSHA is requesting public comments on its proposal to eliminate the ancillary provisions in the beryllium Final Rule for the shipyard and construction sectors. Specifically, OSHA poses the question—“What is the incremental benefit if OSHA keeps the medical surveillance requirement… but revokes the other ancillary provisions? Alternatively, should OSHA keep some of the medical surveillance requirements for construction and shipyard but not others?”

OSHA is also considering granting a one-year extension of the January Final Rule deadline for construction and shipyard employers. Check out OSHA’s proposal for details about how and where to submit your comments

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Tags: 29CFR, beryllium, exposure, osha, PEL

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