The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on May 5 issued a direct final rule (DFR) clarifying aspects of the beryllium standard for general industry as it applies to processes, operations or areas where workers may be exposed to materials containing less than 0.1% beryllium by weight (https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/trade/05042018).
On Jan. 9, 2017, OSHA published its final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in the Federal Register (82 FR 2470). OSHA concluded that employees exposed to beryllium and beryllium compounds at the preceding permissible exposure limits (PELs) were at significant risk of material impairment of health, specifically chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer.
OSHA concluded that the new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) PEL of 0.2 μg/m3 reduced this significant risk to the maximum extent feasible. Based on information submitted to the record, in the final rule OSHA issued three separate standards - general industry, shipyards and construction. In addition to the revised PEL, the final rule established a new, short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 2.0 μg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period and an action level of 0.1 μg/m3 as an 8-hour TWA, along with provisions intended to provide additional protections to employees, such as requirements for personal protective clothing and equipment (including respirators, exposure assessment and methods for controlling exposure, housekeeping, medical surveillance, hazard communication and recordkeeping. These provisions are similar to those found in other OSHA health standards (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/07/2018-09306/revising...).
In an effort to clarify OSHA's intent, the DFR amends the text of the beryllium standard for general industry with respect to certain definitions included in the standard, including the definition of beryllium work area (BWA), the definition of emergency and the meaning of the terms dermal contact and beryllium contamination. It also clarifies provisions for disposal and recycling and provisions that the agency only intends to apply where skin can be exposed to materials containing at least 0.1% beryllium by weight (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/07/2018-09306/revising...).
On May 10, the agency indicated it was delaying enforcing certain requirements of the final rule on occupational exposure to beryllium in general industry, construction, and shipyards. In a memorandum (https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/2018-05-09), the agency noted that on May 11, 2018:
“OSHA will begin enforcing only the:
- PELs in the general industry, construction, and shipyard standards at §1910.1024(c), §1926.1124(c), and §1915.1024(c), respectively;
- General industry exposure assessment at §1910.1024(d);
- General industry respiratory protection §1910.1024(g);
- General industry medical surveillance §1910.1024(k); and
- General industry medical removal at §1910.1024(l).”
Aside from these requirements, other ancillary provisions included in the beryllium standard for general industry will not be enforced until June 25, 2018. Under the terms of settlement agreements with petitioners who challenged the rule, OSHA indicated it will issue a proposal to further extend this compliance date for the ancillary provisions to Dec. 12, 2018.
The direct final rule will become effective on July 4, 2018, unless the agency receives significant adverse comments by June 4, 2018.
Sandy Smith is the EHSQ Content and Community Lead at Intelex Tecnologies Inc. You can follow her on LinkedIn by clicking HERE.