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OSHA’s New Rule for Occupational Exposure to Beryllium
A new final rule that amends OSHA’s standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 9, 2017. OSHA’s new rule replaces a decades-old permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium, establishes a new short-term exposure limit (STEL), and requires additional protections such as personal protective equipment, medical exams, medical surveillance, and training. According to OSHA, the majority of workers at risk include those employed in foundry and smelting operations, fabricating, machining, grinding beryllium metal and alloys, beryllium oxide ceramics manufacturing, and dental lab work.
The rule comprises three standards, one each for general industry, construction, and shipyards. The separate standards allow OSHA to tailor its requirements to the different circumstances found in each sector; however, the agency notes that all three standards contain many common elements. All three standards take effect on March 21, 2017.
Information about OSHA’s new final rule appears below.
From “Protecting Workers from Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds: Final Rule Overview”: Compared to other OSHA health standards, the beryllium rule covers a relatively small worker population of approximately 62,000 workers. OSHA estimates that each year the final rule will save the lives of 94 workers from beryllium related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of chronic beryllium disease once its full effects are realized.
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Editors' note: A regulatory freeze issued January 20 potentially affects several regulations related to occupational and environmental health and safety. See the AIHA website for more information.

On Feb. 1, a noticed published in the Federal Register announced a new effective date of March 21, 2017, for the beryllium rule. The effective date, as reported in the print version of this article, was originally March 10.
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Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
 
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
 
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
 
Ed Rutkowski, editor