OSHA Delays Beryllium Rule Enforcement until May 11
OSHA Delays Beryllium Rule and Clarifies Requirements for Construction and Shipyards
The final rule on beryllium exposure in the general, construction and shipyard industries became effective on May 20, 2017. However, the agency recently announced the delay of enforcement until May 11, 2018. Some of the rule requirements will vary between the three affected industries as well.
Beryllium: A toxic metal commonly found in machine parts, electronics and aircraft. The metal is known as a carcinogen and can cause respiratory problems, skin disease and many other adverse health affects.
Result: OSHA lowered the exposure limits for employers in the general, construction and shipyard industries:
- The permissible exposure limit (PEL) of an eight-hour average has been lowered to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The previous PEL was 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
- The short-term exposure limit (STEL) over a 15-minute period has been lowered to 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
Construction and Shipyard Industries Clarification: OSHA will only require these industries to follow the new PEL and STEL.
The agency stated that employees in these industries don’t frequently work near dangerous amounts of beryllium and are protected by the safety requirements found in other OSHA standards.
General Industry Clarification: Employers must follow the new PEL, STEL and these additional control methods.
- Provide exposure assessment to employees who are reasonably expected to be exposed.
- Establish, maintain and distinguish work areas that may contain dangerous amounts of beryllium.
- Create and regularly update a written exposure plan.
- Provide adequate respiratory protection and other personal protective equipment to employees.
- Train employees on hazards and control methods.
- Maintain work areas that contain beryllium and (under certain conditions) establish facilities for employees to wash and change out of contaminated clothing or equipment.
For more information, visit the official Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) site at osha.gov.