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OSHA's Final Rule on Beryllium

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is making significant changes to standards for employers in general industry, construction, and shipyards that handle beryllium. Professionals in or involved with any of the following industries should take notice:

• Aerospace (aircraft braking systems, engines, satellites, space telescopes);

• Automotive (anti-lock brake systems, ignitions);

• Ceramic manufacturing (rocket covers, semiconductor chips);

• Defense (components for nuclear weapons, missile parts, guidance systems, optical systems);

• Dental labs (alloys in crowns, bridges, and dental plates);

• Electronics (x-rays, computer parts, telecommunication parts, automotive parts);

• Energy (microwave devices, relays);

• Medicine (laser devices, electro-medical devices, x-ray windows);

• Nuclear energy (heat shields, reactors);

• Sporting goods (golf clubs, bicycles); and

• Telecommunications (optical systems, wireless base stations)1.

OSHA will reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium from 2 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. The action level for beryllium will be 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter. The new short-term exposure limit (STEL) will be 2 micrograms over a 15-minute period. This action brings the PEL closer to the American Council on Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) of 0.05 micrograms per cubic meter.

This change, along with the other rule provisions, will require employers to utilize several new precautions:

• Engineering and work practice controls to limit worker exposure;

• Provision of respirators when controls cannot adequately limit exposure

• Limitations to worker access to high-exposure areas;

• Development of a written exposure control plan;

• Training workers on beryllium hazards; and

• Provision of medical surveillance to workers that are exposed to beryllium above the action level on 30 or more days per year.

o This includes medical removal protection benefits to workers identified with a beryllium-related disease.

These standards take effect March 10, 2017, and employers must comply with most requirements before March 12, 2018. Employers will have until March 11, 2019 to provide the required changing rooms and showers and until March 10, 2020 to implement engineering controls.

As of March 1, 2017 OSHA is proposing additional time to review the Occupational Exposure to Beryllium rule, so that the effective date may be moved to May 20, 2017.

The full press release for this change can be found in the link at the bottom of this article.2

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