Beryllium Federal agencies Construction Construction

OSHA issues proposed rule on changes to beryllium standards for construction, shipyards


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Washington — As expected, OSHA is proposing changes to its beryllium standards for the construction and shipyard industries.

In a final rule published in the Sept. 30 Federal Register, OSHA stated that it would not eliminate all ancillary provisions in the two standards, but would introduce other alterations.

The dozens of proposed changes, according to an Oct. 7 press release, address definitions, methods of compliance, respiratory protection, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

OSHA delayed the compliance date for the ancillary provisions in the standards until Sept. 30, 2020. The proposed rule does not affect the agency’s beryllium standard for general industry, and OSHA still is enforcing its permissible exposure limit for beryllium (0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air) as well as its short-term exposure limit (2 micrograms per cubic meter of air).

Among OSHA’s reasoning for the changes, outlined in a notice published in the Oct. 8 Federal Register, is the need to tailor the regulation because of a “partial overlap” with other agency standards, and to avoid “inconsistency, where appropriate, between the shipyards and constructions standards and proposed revisions to the general industry standard.”

The agency also states that it wants to clarify certain requirements for materials that contain “only trace amounts of beryllium.” OSHA claims that materials in the two industries typically contain “lower content beryllium” than in general industry, and construction and shipyard work with beryllium is “significantly less varied.”

An informal public hearing on the proposed rule is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Eastern on Dec. 3 at Department of Labor headquarters. Comments are due Nov. 7.

Beryllium is a lightweight metal that can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and chronic beryllium disease – also known as berylliosis.

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