OSHA Issues Final Beryllium Standard

July 14, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a final rule revising the beryllium standard for general industry. The final rule includes changes designed to clarify the standard, and simplify or improve compliance. These changes maintain protection for employees while ensuring that the standard is well understood and compliance is simple and straightforward.

First, OSHA is revising the definition of “confirmed positive” to state that the findings of two abnormal, one abnormal, and one borderline, or three borderline results need to occur from beryllium lymphocyte proliferation tests (BeLPTs) conducted within a three-year period. This differs from the definition proposed in the 2018 NPRM, which would have required that any combination of test results specified in the definition must be obtained within the 30-day follow-up test period required after a first abnormal or borderline BeLPT test result. 

Second, OSHA is modifying the proposed paragraph (j)(3), which requires employers to take certain actions when transferring materials that contain at least 0.1 percent beryllium by weight or that are contaminated with beryllium outside a plant for the purpose of disposal, recycling, or reuse, to clarify that only transfers outside of a plant, including between facilities owned by the same employer, are subject to the labeling requirements of paragraph (m)(3). 

Third, OSHA is modifying the proposed provisions pertaining to an employer’s obligation to offer a medical examination after an employee is exposed to beryllium in an emergency. 

Fourth, OSHA is amending proposed paragraph (k)(7)(i) to require that an examination at a chronic beryllium disease (CBD) diagnostic center be scheduled within 30 days of the employer receiving certain types of documentation, listed in paragraph (k)(7)(i)(A) and (B), that trigger evaluation for CBD. 

The compliance date of this final standard as modified is September 14, 2020.