OSHA's Beryllium Rule Under OIRA Review

OSHA issued it Jan. 6, 2017, aiming to reduce an estimated 62,000 workers' exposure to beryllium -- exposures that can cause lung diseases -- and setting it to take effect in 60 days. But the effective date was delayed.

OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs now has under review OSHA's final rule to reduce the eight-hour PEL for beryllium from the current level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. OSHA issued it Jan. 6, 2017, aiming to reduce an estimated 62,000 workers' exposure to beryllium -- exposures that can cause lung diseases -- and setting it to take effect in 60 days. But the effective date was delayed.

The OIRA website for rules under review or with reviews completed indicates the rule was received April 27.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical care, and defense. It is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, according to DOL, which says the current permissible exposure limits were based on decades-old studies.

When OSHA published the rule, it estimated the rule will annually save the lives of 94 workers from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease. Workers in foundry and smelting operations, fabricating, machining, grinding beryllium metal and alloys, beryllium oxide ceramics manufacturing, and dental lab work are the majority of the workers who are at risk, according to the agency.

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