OSHA Proposes Change to Beryllium Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed changes to the beryllium standard for general industry. According to OSHA, the changes are designed to clarify the standard and simply compliance.

The proposed rule would add or change the definitions of six terms, namely:

  • beryllium sensitization
  • beryllium work area
  • chronic beryllium disease
  • CBD diagnostic center
  • confirmed positive
  • and dermal contact with beryllium

The proposed rule will also modify additional sections of the standard including “Methods of Compliance,” “Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment,” “Hygiene Areas and Practices,” “Housekeeping,” “Medical Surveillance,” “Hazard Communication,” and “Recordkeeping.”

It would also remove the existing Appendix A, which lists suggested controls, and replace it with a new Appendix A, Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas.

Back in January 2017, OSHA published a final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds. The rule set new permissible exposure limits to significantly reduce beryllium risk to workers. Other requirements included rules for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

OSHA is enforcing the permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air and the short-term exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air for general industry, construction and shipyards.

This new proposed rule satisfies a settlement agreement with stakeholders that had concerns about some of the provisions in the 2017 beryllium final rule.

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.

Comments, hearing requests, and other information must be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Comments must be submitted by February 11, 2019. The enforcement date for the provisions affected by this proposal is December 12, 2018.