OSHA Proposes Change to Beryllium Exposure Standards

June 26, 2017

It took almost four decades to set in place a safer standard for workplace beryllium exposure, a mineral found it blasting compounds in construction and shipyards that is linked to  chronic beryllium disease (CBD), a disabling and potentially fatal lung ailment according to OSHA's Safety and Health Topics/Beryllium webpage.

The final rule adopted January 9, 2017 provided ancillary provisions intended to provide additional protections to employees, such as requirements for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective clothing and equipment, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping similar to those found in other OSHA health standards.

However, due to the Trump administration's “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review”,  OSHA has set back enforcement of the final rule that established new protections for construction workers who are exposed to beryllium. Compliance obligations for the new rule were to begin March 12, 2018 but OSHA will not enforce the standards while the amended rule makes its way through regulatory actions.

In the new OSHA proposal, due for publication in the Federal Register June 27, the agency is seeking public comment and review based on claims by the Abrasive Blasting Manufacturers Alliance and other industry groups who maintain the ancillary provisions aren't necessary, specifically medical surveillance requirements for workers.

The OSHA proposal  Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in Construction and Shipyard Sectors is available here and at https://federalregister.gov/d/2017-12871 on Tuesday.