Proposed Rule: Occupational Exposure to Beryllium

Workers who inhale airborne beryllium in the workplace can develop a lung condition called chronic beryllium disease or CBD. Occupational exposure to beryllium has also been linked to lung cancer. Beryllium is classified as a human carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

On January 9, 2017, OSHA published its final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds in the Federal Register. The final rule reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for beryllium to a new 8-hour time-weighted-average (TWA) PEL of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg/m3). OSHA issued three separate standards in the final rule – for general industry, for shipyards, and for 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 along with a number of ancillary provisions similar to those found in other comprehensive health standards.

OSHA is proposing to revoke the ancillary provisions applicable to the construction and shipyard sectors, but to retain the new lower PEL of 0.2 μg/m3 and the STEL of 2.0 μg/m3 for those sectors. OSHA will not enforce the January 2017 construction and shipyard standards without further notice. This proposal does not affect the general industry beryllium standard published on January 9, 2017.

OSHA is reconsidering the need for ancillary provisions in the construction and shipyards sectors. OSHA has evidence that beryllium exposure in these sectors is limited to the following operations: abrasive blasting in construction, abrasive blasting in shipyards, and welding in shipyards. OSHA is seeking comment on whether existing standards provide protections for beryllium-exposed workers in construction and shipyards. These standards include:

Ventilation standard in construction (1926.57)
Criteria for personal protective equipment standard in construction (1926.95)
Mechanical paint removers standard in shipyards (1915.34)
Ventilation and protection in welding, cutting and heating in shipyards (1915.51)
Hand and body protection standard in shipyards (1915.157)
Confined and enclosed spaces standards in shipyards (Part 1915 Subpart B)
Ventilation standard in general industry for exhaust ventilation and housekeeping (1910.94(a)(4), (a)(7))1
Respiratory Protection standard in general industry (1910.134)1,2
Hazard communication standard in general industry (1910.1200)1,2

This proposal provides stakeholders with an additional opportunity to offer comments on the protections needed for workers exposed to beryllium in the construction and shipyard sectors, including the need for the ancillary provisions in the January 9, 2017 construction and shipyard beryllium standards. This will provide OSHA with a robust record as it further considers the January 9, 2017 final rule's provisions for these sectors.

OSHA encourages the public to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and participating in a public hearing if one takes place. Your input will help OSHA develop an effective rule in the construction and shipyard sectors that protects employees from beryllium-related health effects to the extent feasible for employers. See the Public Participation section on this page.

[Go to OSHA's Beryllium Website]

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