OSHA Changing General Industry Beryllium Rule

The direct final rule clarifies the definitions of Beryllium Work Area, emergency, dermal contact, and beryllium contamination, and it clarifies provisions for disposal and recycling and provisions that OSHA intends to apply only where skin can be exposed to materials containing at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight.

OSHA issued a direct final rule on May 4 that makes changes in the beryllium standard for general industry as it applies to processes, operations, or areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing less than 0.1 percent beryllium by weight. The direct final rule clarifies the definitions of Beryllium Work Area, emergency, dermal contact, and beryllium contamination, and it clarifies provisions for disposal and recycling and provisions that OSHA intends to apply only where skin can be exposed to materials containing at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight.

The agency said the direct final rule will become effective on July 4, 2018, unless it receives significant adverse comments by June 4.

OSHA issued its final rule on Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds on Jan. 9, 2017, issuing separate standards for general industry, shipyards, and construction. They contained a new PEL-- an eight-hour time-weighted average PEL of 0.2 μg/m3 and also a new short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 μg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period and an action level of 0.1 μg/m3 as an eight-hour TWA.

The DFR does not affect the construction and shipyard standards, which will be addressed in a separate rulemaking, the DFR states.

It says OSHA intended to protect employees working with trace beryllium only when it caused airborne exposures of concern, but stakeholders said an unintended consequence of the final rule's revision of the trace exemption is that provisions intended to protect workers from skin contact with beryllium-contaminated material could be read to apply to materials with trace levels of beryllium. So the DFR clarifies that OSHA doesn't intend the dermal contact provisions to apply to processes, operations, or areas involving only materials containing less than 0.1 percent beryllium by weight.

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