Beryllium Rule Effective Date Delayed Further
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a delay in the effective date of the rule titled “Occupational Exposure to Beryllium,” from March 21, 2017, to May 20, 2017.
The delay will allow OSHA an opportunity for further review and consideration of the rule, in keeping with a Jan. 20, 2017, White House memorandum, titled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.”
OSHA published the final rule on Jan. 9, 2017, dramatically lowering permissible beryllium levels, and previously announced the effective date would be postponed to March 21, 2017.
On March 1, 2017, OSHA sought comments on a further extension to May 20, 2017.
OSHA has now determined that the further delay is appropriate for the purpose of additional review into questions of law and policy.
The extension of the effective date will not affect the compliance dates of the rule.
Beryllium is a strategically important material that can cause devastating lung diseases.
The new beryllium standards for general industry, construction, and shipyards require employers to take additional, practical measures to protect an estimated 62,000 workers from these serious risks.
Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical, and defense industries.
However, it is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fumes, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially damaging their lungs.
Recent scientific evidence shows that low-level exposures to beryllium can cause serious lung disease.
The new rule revises previous beryllium permissible exposure limits, which were based on decades-old studies.
The final rule reduces the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter.
Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce airborne beryllium levels.
The rule requires additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training, as well.
It also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.
OSHA estimates that, once in full effect, the rule will annually save the lives of 94 workers and prevent 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease.
To give employers sufficient time to meet the requirements and put proper protections in place, the rule provides staggered compliance dates.
Once the rule is effective, employers have one year to implement most of the standard’s provisions.
Employers must provide the required change rooms and showers beginning two years after the effective date.
Employers are also required to implement the engineering controls beginning three years after the effective date of the standards.
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.