OSHA today issued a direct final rule clarifying aspects of the beryllium standard for general industry as it applies to processes, operations, or areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing less than 0.1% beryllium by weight.

The DFR clarifies the definitions of beryllium work area, emergency, dermal contact, and beryllium contamination.

It also clarifies provisions for disposal and recycling, and provisions that the agency intends to apply only where skin can be exposed to materials containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight.

The direct final rule takes effect July 4, 2018, unless the agency receives significant adverse comments by June 4, 2018.

Why the New Beryllium Standard?

OSHA's new rule is designed to prevent chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer in workers by limiting their exposure to beryllium and its compounds.

About 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium in their workplaces, including approximately 11,500 construction and shipyard workers who may conduct abrasive blasting operations using slags that contain trace amounts of beryllium.

Key facts about the rule include:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over eight hours.
  • Establishes a new short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over a 15-minute sampling period.
  • Requires employers to use engineering and work practice controls (such as ventilation or enclosure) to limit worker exposure to beryllium, provide respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure, limit worker access to high-exposure areas, develop a written exposure control plan, and train workers on beryllium hazards.
  • Requires employers to make medical exams available to monitor exposed workers and provides medical removal protection benefits to workers identified with a beryllium-related disease.

Register now for the CBIA 2018 Safety & Health Conference, May 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Cromwell.