OSHA to Start Enforcing New Beryllium Rule in May

OSHA said it also will begin enforcing on May 11, 2018, the new, lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit for construction and shipyard industries.

OSHA has announced it will start enforcement of its final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general industry, construction, and shipyards on May 11, 2018, with the agency saying this timing "will ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations, and that OSHA provides consistent instructions to its inspectors."

The start of enforcement had previously been set for March 12, 2018.

In January 2017, OSHA issued new health standards addressing exposure to beryllium in all industries. In response to feedback from stakeholders, the agency is considering technical updates to the January 2017 general industry standard, which will clarify and simplify compliance with requirements.

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 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 labs are the majority of the workers who are at risk, according to the agency.

OSHA said it also will begin enforcing on May 11, 2018, the new, lower 8-hour permissible exposure limit and short-term (15-minute) exposure limit for construction and shipyard industries. In the interim, if an employer fails to meet the new PEL or STEL, OSHA will inform the employer of the exposure levels and offer assistance to assure understanding and compliance.

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