OSHA Announces a New Proposed Rule on Beryllium ExposureCategories: Industry News Jun 30, 2017
On Jan. 9, OSHA issued a final rule that established new protections for workers who are exposed to beryllium in general industry, construction and shipyards. Beryllium is a lightweight metal used primarily in specialty alloys and beryllium oxide ceramics. It also is present as a trace material in metal slags.
OSHA on June 23 announced a new proposed rule that would modify the agency’s recent beryllium standards for the construction and shipyard sectors. The proposal for shipyards and construction would maintain the requirements for exposure limits (permissible exposure limit of 0.2 μg/m3 and short-term exposure limit of 2.0 μg/m3), which will continue to protect workers from a serious beryllium-related lung disease known as chronic beryllium disease. However, it revises the application of what it called “ancillary” provisions such as housekeeping, medical surveillance and personal protective equipment (PPE) found in the January 2017 final standards for the construction and shipyard industries.
The United Steelworkers (USW) on June 23 blasted the administration’s proposal to cancel what it called “important protections” for shipyard and construction workers exposed to beryllium. According to the USW, under the new proposal released by OSHA, “employers would no longer have to measure beryllium levels in the workplace or provide medical testing to workers at risk of fatal lung disease. In addition, workers would not have the right to wear protective clothing or to shower at the end of the work shift, making it possible for beryllium to be taken home and exposed to spouses and children.”