OSHA Delays Enforcement of New Beryllium Exposure Standards Until May 2018
OSHA on March 2 announced its intention to delay enforcement of its stricter industry beryllium standards for general industry, maritime, and construction workplaces—including the lowered permissible exposure limit (PEL) and short-term exposure limit (STEL)—until May 11, 2018.
The Final Rule, published on January 9, 2017, lowered the permissible exposure limit and the short-term (15-minute) exposure limit for beryllium and beryllium compounds. In addition to amended PEL and STEL, OSHA’s beryllium standard was amended to add “ancillary provisions that address exposure assessments, control methods, respiratory protection and PPE, employee training, medical surveillance, and hazard communication (HazCom).”
In March 2017, the month the Final Rule was set to take effect, OSHA extended the deadline for compliance until May 20, 2017 in response to an executive order.
In June 2017, OSHA revoked the “ancillary provisions” for the shipyard and construction sectors, noting that similar safety standards for blasting work already exist, e.g., 29 CFR 1926.57 and 1915.34. At that time, OSHA made it clear that the Agency has no plans to revoke the lower PEL or STEL for beryllium.
Read more: The 7 Stages of All New OSHA Rules
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.
What Is Beryllium and Why Is It Hazardous?
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 goal achieved by the January 2017 Final Rule.
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