Manufacturing Beryllium Federal agencies

OSHA to extend compliance date, change ancillary provisions in beryllium standard for general industry

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UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect changes announced by OSHA on May 4.

Washington — OSHA will extend the compliance date for its beryllium standard for general industry and change certain ancillary provisions in the final rule, according to a settlement agreement between the agency and four petitioners.

OSHA, the National Association of Manufacturers, AirBorn Inc., Materion Brush Inc. and Mead Metals Inc. signed the agreement April 24. As part of the settlement, OSHA is scheduled to issue one direct final rule and notices of proposed rulemaking reflecting the changes.

According to a May 4 press release from OSHA, the direct final rule – scheduled to be published in the May 7 Federal Register – is intended to clarify certain definitions and provisions for disposal/recycling, along with those that apply in cases of potential skin exposure to materials containing at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight.

The direct final rule will go into effect July 4, “unless the agency receives significant adverse comments by June 4,” the release states.

The first NPRM will move the standard’s general industry compliance date to Dec. 12 with the exception of two provisions: change rooms/showers and engineering controls. The first of those provisions has a compliance date of March 11, 2019, while the engineering controls provision has a compliance date of March 10, 2020.

The first NPRM also will state that OSHA is preparing a second NPRM for “changes to many of the ancillary requirements.”

In March, OSHA sent a memo to regional administrators stating that enforcement of all beryllium standards would be delayed until May 11 because of the settlement negotiations.

OSHA’s final rule on beryllium was published Jan. 9, 2017, and initially went into effect May 20, 2017. Enforcement on all standards was slated to begin March 12.

The agency issued a proposed rule this past June that seeks to remove “ancillary provisions” – such as those addressing housekeeping and personal protective equipment – for the beryllium standard in the construction and shipyard industries. The new permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air would remain in place, as would the short-term exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

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.

OSHA estimates that 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium. The agency has projected that the updated regulations will save 90 lives from beryllium-related disease and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease each year.

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