Beryllium Federal agencies Manufacturing

OSHA delays compliance date for parts of general industry beryllium standard


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Washington — OSHA is extending to Dec. 12 the compliance date for certain ancillary provisions in its beryllium standard for general industry, the agency has announced.

The final rule, published in the Aug. 9 Federal Register, states that the compliance date applies to requirements for methods of compliance, beryllium work areas, regulated areas, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene facilities and practices, housekeeping, communication of hazards, and recordkeeping.

OSHA first proposed the extension in the June 1 Federal Register, and stated it is preparing to issue another notice of proposed rulemaking “to clarify certain provisions of the beryllium standard that would maintain the standard’s worker safety and health protections, and address employers’ compliance burdens.”

That NPRM is part of a settlement agreement, signed April 24, with the National Association of Manufacturers, AirBorn Inc., Materion Brush Inc. and Mead Metals Inc.

As part of the agreement, OSHA published a direct final rule on May 7 that was 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.” That DFR went into effect July 6.

The only ancillary provisions not affected by this recent final rule are those pertaining to change rooms/showers and engineering controls. The first has a compliance date of March 11, 2019; the latter is slated to go into effect on March 10, 2020.

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. Enforcement of the general industry standard’s requirements for exposure assessment, respiratory protection, medical surveillance and medical removal has been in effect since May 11.

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 every year. 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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