The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published two final rules regarding the beryllium standard and respirator fit testing.
Published on September 26, 2019, two new quantitative fit testing protocols were added to the respiratory protection standard (1910.134). According to an OSHA news release, the new testing methods are:
- modified ambient aerosol condensation nuclei counter (CNC) quantitative fit testing protocol for full-facepiece and half-mask elastomeric respirators
- modified ambient aerosol CNC quantitative fit testing protocol for filtering facepiece respirators
These two new methods go along with the four other testing methods found in Appendix A of the respiratory standard. Employers must use one of these methods to protect employees from “hazardous airborne contaminants.” OSHA states that the rule does not require businesses update or replace their current fit testing methods. The new protocols also have fewer test exercises, shorter exercise durations, and a “more streamlined sampling sequence” than the original testing protocol.
On September 30, 2019, OSHA also finalized changes to the beryllium standard in construction and shipyards that was first introduced in June 2017.
According to Safety and Health Magazine, the original proposed rule would have eliminated so-called “ancillary provisions” of the rule covering medical surveillance, written exposure control plans, and PPE because they were covered by other OSHA rules.
The permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air and the short-term exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air will still be enforced.
Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in electronics and the defense industry, among others. Overexposure can cause serious health risks, including incurable chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. According to OSHA’s estimates, about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium each year.
The compliance date for the ancillary provisions is set for September 2020.
The Workplace Safety Experts can ensure your safety plans are up to date and we can conduct your respirator fit tests! Call at 1-800-204-1729 or fill out the contact form below to find out how we can help your business and protect your employees