10. May 2017

OSHA Delays Effective Date of Final Rule on Beryllium


Beryllium is a lightweight but strong metal used primarily in the defense and aerospace industries. Beryllium-copper alloy is commonly used for its thermal and electrical conductivity, good corrosion and fatigue resistance, high strength and hardness, and nonmagnetic properties. Beryllium oxide makes an excellent heat conductor and works as an electrical insulator in some uses.

OSHA Delays Effective Date of Beryllium Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule in the prevention of chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer due to beryllium exposure in American workers. This rule will limit their exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds, and it sets the standards for construction, general industry, and shipyards.

OSHA has delayed the effective date of the final rule until May 20, 2017. This is to give more time for additional review and consideration.

OSHA estimates that the new rule will save approximately 90 lives from beryllium-related diseases as well as prevent up to 46 new cases of CBD annually. The projected new benefits are estimated at $560 million each year.

Who is Exposed to Beryllium?

Approximately 62,000 American workers face beryllium exposure at work. This includes close to 11,500 shipyard and construction workers who do abrasive blasting operations with slags containing trace quantities of beryllium. However, most of the American workers impacted by the new rule face exposure in the production of beryllium metal and ceramics, the production of beryllium alloys, and non-ferrous foundries. Currently, conscientious employers have provided their workers with personal protective clothing and equipment, as well as followed safe engineering and work practice procedures.

Key Provisions of the Beryllium Rule

According to the OSHA Beryllium rule, the key provisions are as follows:

  • Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over 8-hours.
  • Establishes a new short term exposure limit for beryllium of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air, over a 15-minute sampling period.
  • Requires employers to: use engineering and work practice controls (such as ventilation or enclosure) to limit worker exposure to beryllium; provide respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high-exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan; and train workers on beryllium hazards.
  • Requires employers to make available medical exams to monitor exposed workers and provides medical removal protection benefits to workers identified with a beryllium-related disease.

Compliance Dates

The final rule is now scheduled to take effect on May 20, 2017. Originally, the effective date was in March 2017. Employers must comply with most of the provisions by March 12, 2018. In addition, employers will have until March 11, 2019 to provide change rooms and showers, and until March 10, 2020 to integrate engineering controls.

This final rule replaces the previous PEL for beryllium that was established over 40 years ago. OSHA asked for formal public input beginning in 2002. In 2012, a major beryllium manufacturer and a labor union jointly submitted proposals for a new rule.

SV Demolition stays current on all OSHA standards to ensure a safe workplace, which in turn allows us to provide our clients with excellent, cost-effective demolition solutions. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you with your next construction project.