Enforcement of Beryllium Standard to Begin May 11
In March, OSHA announced that it was delaying enforcement of its final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general, construction, and shipyard industries until May 11, 2018. Enforcement of the rule was previously set to begin on March 12. According to OSHA, this delay allows time for the agency to ensure that stakeholders are aware of their obligations and provide consistent instructions to its inspectors. The final rule amending OSHA’s standards for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds was published in January 2017. The new rule replaces the decades-old permissible exposure limit for beryllium, reducing the PEL from 2 µg/m3 to 0.2 µg/m3 averaged over eight hours. The rule also establishes a new short-term exposure limit for beryllium of 2 µg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period, and requires additional protections such as personal protective equipment, medical exams, medical surveillance, and training. The rule comprises three standards, one each for general industry, construction, and shipyards. Employers who fail to meet the new PEL or STEL before enforcement begins in May will be informed of the new exposure levels and offered compliance assistance. OSHA's final rule, including background materials and related information, as well as the agency's announcement of the delay, are available on the agency website. For more information, read OSHA’s memorandum to regional administrators.
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Editor's note: On May 4, OSHA issued a direct final rule to "clarify" provisions of the beryllium standard for general industry. The rule is to become effective July 4, 2018, unless the agency receives "significant adverse comments" by June 4. See the Synergist news item on the AIHA website for more information.