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OSHA proposes changes to beryllium standard for general industry

December 11, 2018

Washington — OSHA has issued a proposed rule to amend certain parts of its beryllium standard for general industry in an effort “designed to clarify the standard, and to simplify or improve compliance.”

The proposed rule, published in the Dec. 11 Federal Register, would revise provisions regarding recordkeeping, personal protective clothing and equipment, written control exposure plans, disposal and recycling, medical surveillance, and hazard communication. It also would change or add six terms in the “definitions” paragraph of its regulations: beryllium sensitization, beryllium work area, chronic beryllium disease, CBD diagnostic center, confirmed positive and dermal contact with beryllium.

Another proposed change is removing Appendix A, which lists suggested controls, and replacing it with a new Appendix A, “Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas.”

While this rule is pending, OSHA states that “compliance with the standard as modified” by the proposed rule “will be accepted as compliance.”

The deadline to comment on the proposed rule is Feb. 11.


The changes are part of a settlement agreement, signed April 24, with the National Association of Manufacturers, AirBorn Inc., Materion Brush Inc. and Mead Metals Inc.

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.

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.