OSHA has scheduled a public hearing on the agency's proposed rule to amend its existing exposure limits for occupational exposure in general industry to beryllium and beryllium compounds.

The hearing will be held Feb. 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

The proposed rule, published on Aug. 7, 2015, would dramatically lower workplace exposure to beryllium, a widely used material that can cause devastating lung disease.

This hearing will provide the public an opportunity to testify or provide evidence on issues raised by the proposal.

The hearing will begin at 2 p.m. ET in Room N-4437 A-D, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC.

If necessary, the hearing will continue from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on subsequent days in Washington, D.C.

Individuals who intend to present testimony or question witnesses must submit the full text of their testimony and all documentary evidence by Jan. 29, 2016.

Submissions may be sent electronically or mailed or delivered.

Currently, OSHA's eight-hour permissible exposure limit for beryllium is 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Beryllium-exposed workers may also develop other adverse health effects such as acute beryllium disease and lung cancer.
Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium.

That standard was originally established in 1948 by the Atomic Energy Commission and adopted by OSHA in 1971.

OSHA's proposed standard would reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter.

The proposed rule would also require additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, and training.

Why Is Beryllium a Hazard to Workers?

The element beryllium is a grey metal that is stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum.

Its physical properties of great strength-to-weight, high melting point, excellent thermal stability and conductivity, reflectivity, and transparency to X-rays make it an essential material in the aerospace, telecommunications, defense, computer, medical, and nuclear industries.

Workers in industries where beryllium is processed may be exposed to beryllium by inhaling or contacting beryllium in the air or on surfaces.

Inhaling or contacting beryllium can cause an immune response that results in an individual becoming sensitized to beryllium.

Individuals with beryllium sensitization can develop a debilitating disease of the lungs called chronic beryllium disease (CBD) if they inhale airborne beryllium after becoming sensitized.

Beryllium-exposed workers may also develop other adverse health effects such as acute beryllium disease and lung cancer.

 

Filed Under: OSHA, Safety

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