New OSHA Rule Revises Beryllium Standard
A final rule issued by OSHA revises the agency’s beryllium standard for general industry. The changes affect provisions for methods of compliance, personal protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping. The final rule also adds a definition for “beryllium sensitization”—an immune system response occurring in specific individuals exposed to beryllium—and modifies the existing definitions for several other terms. The standard’s Appendix A is being replaced with a new appendix on establishing beryllium work areas. According to OSHA, the amendments to the standard are intended to “clarify certain provisions and simplify or improve compliance.”  Beryllium is used in many applications in the defense, aerospace, nuclear, telecommunications, and medical industries. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists beryllium as a Group 1 carcinogen (PDF), while the National Toxicology Program lists beryllium and beryllium compounds as “known to be human carcinogens” (PDF). OSHA estimates that 62,000 workers are potentially exposed to beryllium in more than 7,000 workplaces in the United States. The new final standard will affect approximately 50,500 workers and will take effect on Sept. 14, 2020. A Federal Register notice provides a detailed explanation of OSHA’s new and revised provisions.